The age of the smart machine.
Frances Fukuyama had some interesting things to say in the current issue of Foreign Affairs about the implications of globalization and technical innovation for our children’s future.*
- But what if the further development of technology and globalization undermines the middle class and makes it impossible for more than a minority of citizens in an advanced society to achieve middle-class status?
- Americans may today benefit from cheap cell phones, inexpensive clothing, and Facebook, but they increasingly cannot afford their own homes, or health insurance, or comfortable pensions when they retire.
- We are today living in what the scholar Shoshana Zuboff has labeled ‘the age of the smart machine’, in which technology is increasingly able to substitute for more and higher human functions. Every great advance for Silicon Valley likely means a loss of low-skill jobs elsewhere in the economy, a trend that is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Fukuyama points out that solutions to these challenges will require a new narrative regarding the political and economic system in the United States. It will be interesting to see how this narrative develops among those who would seek to lead the US into the future.
If that knocked your socks off, take a look at our next cool topic, George Steiner: a certain idea of knowledge. And if you want to peruse all of the previous sock-knocking blog entries, visit the Knocked My Socks Off archive. (links to another blog site)
* Fukuyama F. The future of history: can liberal democracy survive the decline of the middle class? Foreign Affairs 2012;91(1). http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history. Accessed January 16, 2012.