Work

Work

“Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession.
It is, indeed, a model of all professional work: the worker
relinquishes control over himself in exchange for money.”
(Thomas Szasz, psychiatrist)

We all know that technological progress has massive implications for work and the future of jobs. As mentioned in an earlier post, new jobs will be created, whereas others will simply disappear. This is not a new phenomenon, if we recall what happened during the industrial revolution.

However, I personally believe that the change is going to be even more dramatic this time around. Jobs destroyed will not be matched by jobs created.

More and more outsourcing results in more and more freelancers, flexibility rules. Many workers will be companies in the future. Technologies will replace the middleman and match freelancers with temporary jobs on a project basis. For some this sounds like a great opportunity. For others it sounds like the return of the day laborer.

If the latter is true, what will happen to labor rights, minimum wages, social security, pensions and so on?

What will happen to solidarity?

Would freelancers competing among themselves ever unionize? Collective bargaining power?

A real danger, evidenced by the fact that we – as consumers – are so preoccupied with price rather than value.

“Sell me cheap, but pay me well” doesn’t work, remember?

Would entrepreneurial responsibility replace labor rights, once freelancers are legally defined as entrepreneurs?

Who controls and owns the technology replacing the middleman? Cui bono?

Are the middlemen being replaced by technology or by one “middleman” owning the technology?

Wouldn’t that be dangerous, as it leads to monopolization?

For large corporations this development has other important ramifications.

Which functions can be outsourced and which ones cannot? What are core corporate functions?

What happens to corporate culture, once the workforce mainly consists of outsourced, temporary freelancers? Identity?

What happens to responsibility – corporate and/or personal – all the way down the supply chain in such a scenario?

Will outsourcing only be an intermediate step to complete automation?

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