World in Transition II

Albert wenger

Albert Wenger kicks off day 2 of DLDnyc speaking about the transitions from industrial to information society.

While there are major political discussions on little changes and mild reforms, we tend to ignore massive underlying changes. According to Wenger there are four massive transformations we need to take care of:

1. Disappearing Growth

We are seeing massive disruptions in education, there's a shift to free resources such as Wikipedia, Coursera and Codacademy. While they all provide massive social benefits, they in fact shrink GDP because they are replacing traditional companies. Craigslist, for instance shrunk the classified advertising market by 5 billion dollars according to a NYU Study.

2. Disappearing Jobs

The reason why numbers of unemployment are going down is because people stopped looking for jobs, not because they got jobs. If you look at numbers of employment, you will see that we haven't created a lot of new jobs.

47% of the jobs of today will be subject of automation within the next 20 years according to a study of Oxford University. Better education won't solve this problem.

3. Disappearing Capital

Why does a company need capital? A Company needs capital to pay for its expenses before it collects revenues.

Today, we can use information. You can pre-finance things with pre-purchases, for instance via crowdfunding. You can keep your product as an information until somebody orders it, so you would just produce it on demand. And then there are products that just consist of information such as software or games like Flappy Bird.

4. Disappearing Attention

According to a study from 2005, on average employees get to spend 11 minutes on on one task before they got interrupted. Within that time span, people already change contexts three times. We have turned local gossip into global gossip. The average book in the US sells less than 250 copies.

GDP growth is the wrong goal, yet we are pursuing it heavily. Jobs won't be a source of income for a lot people. The political discourse dealing with these transformations is missing. Right now we are just patching the past. And we need to start building the future instead.