Full speed for profits, reverse gear for people

 

5.2A Art FEATURE

 

If a generation is 25 years, then only 400 generations separate us from civilization’s birth, about 10,000 years ago. At just 400 generations, we are the biological brothers and sisters of the people who domesticated animals and plants.

About 10,000 years ago, in an early hand-tilled field…

You feel your sweat drip from your chin as you work in your field under the late Summer sun, suddenly inhaling deeply as you enjoy the first faint tang of Fall’s cool air on the breeze. Your plants are nearly grown. This year will bring a change from hunting and gathering. There won’t be starvation during the cold winter months. It will soon be time to harvest, to celebrate.

We took nearly all those 400 generations to reach the industrial revolution.

In the past eight generations we transformed everything.

Today’s farmer sits in the air conditioned cab of a 35-foot wide combine, confirming its GPS and laser-guided steering. Land management software uses satellite images and soil samples to plan crops, predict yields and calculate farm equipment steering patterns. Your combine’s automated steering replaces your sweat with with one-inch steering accuracy. Music and talk radio replaces boredom.

But that’s not enough. Automation continues to advance. The driver of tomorrow’s 18-wheel trucks will be a driver and a dog. The driver will be there to feed the dog, and the dog will be there to bite the driver if he touches anything.

 

Descending darkness?

At the “top” the middle class in advanced societies face an economic plateau.

Their societies’ inventions and technologies race ahead. Productivity is surging. Many corporations earn high or record profits.

But middle class incomes are declining. Middle class jobs are vanishing. Low paying jobs are spreading quickly. Most college educated kids are under-employed. Government and thought leaders don’t have answers.

In these “world-leading societies” science, invention and technology keep advancing. In fact, the pace of tech advances is faster than ever.

Where’s the great future that should be possible with today’s technology and abilities?

The economic returns to most people are falling. Productivity, technology and wealth creation no longer fuel many kinds of jobs and earnings. Large numbers of people are well trained to thrive in yesterday’s industrial society, but that world is vanishing.

The middle class in “advanced societies” are in an economic trap. More people are being shut out. When someone loses their middle class job and can’t replace it, they face a crashing economic nosedive.

There’s an invisible elephant in the room:  Is the tech industry failing society?

If you track the tech industry’s activities and $$$ invested in new technology, it’s off the charts. But when you track society’s prosperity, tech’s rise matches the decline of the industrial revolution’s “income growth engine.”

Where’s the prosperous future that should be possible from the tech industry’s amazing innovations, products and services?

The “advanced societies” are failing when compared to the converging societies and economies — the economies that have sped up.

When the world’s most “advanced” countries have the newest and best tech, but they aren’t evolving fast enough, there’s only one conclusion:  They’re moving too slowly!

The gap between our technology’s potentials and our results is huge and growing.

We’re overdue for answers.

 

Image credit: Shutterstock.