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Technology Guilt Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 4:53 AM


Ten Centuries

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As you say in your editorial, the new openings often require different skills than those used by the person being made redundant. As a result, you need to learn new skills to take up a new position. But then we often have to learn new skills to stay in our current position too, so I see the retraining issue as a bit of a red herring.

Yes, I feel sad for, sorry for and, to an extent, responsible for anyone whose job has suffered at all as a result of what I do. However, I also realise that if my work has any value at all, it's helping the company as a whole to stay in business, so that's my part in safeguarding a much larger number of jobs. Of course it's easy to rationalise all this as small sacrifices for the wider benefit. However, I'm careful to recognise we're talking about real people here, each depending on their own job for an income to support themselves and their families. So long as I don't trivialise this by just focussing on faceless statistics, I can live with the impact (good and bad) of what I do, and can sleep at night.


Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat
Post #1316488
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 6:07 AM
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I don't feel guilty for being part of the technological forces which cause shifts, but I feel a tremendous anger towards those who exploit it with their greed and lies.

Our one and only local daily newspaper just laid off a third of their staff (almost 50% from the news desk) and is going to printing just three days a week. Of course they blame this on technology - advertising revenue is trending down as advertisers take their money online - and claim that they won't be able to be profitable in the future without these changes.

However, we have been told that the paper is currently profitable. Also we are told that we will see more "robust" news coverage online.

It's a lot of lies, because their affiliated web site has always been pretty poor.

It seems like the whole community is now paying the cost of their bad business decisions in organizing their separate online affiliate in the first place which kept the content producers as part of the paper, and now they are killing many of them them off and hoping a merger into the online-only presence will actually work.

So I don't feel guilt. I feel anger at being told by "business" people things which don't end up being true, or end up showing their incompetence or greed or criminal behavior under the guise of a "business decision" or "best for the business". To many of these people, technology is just another tool in an agenda which is despicable.
Post #1316536
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 6:36 AM


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I agree with the majority: Feeling sorry for the replaced workers. My opinion is that if I lost my current position, I'd still be valuable to another company that needed my skills - at least for a while. Most technology improvements are slow-moving in the real world giving me the time to "ramp up" on the skills I'd need to be marketable again.

If the Luddites were smart, they wouldn't have whined about being replaced by a machine. They should have become the leading experts in in building and using them or [repairing] the looms so they could charge their ex-employers a fortune to fix them. <grin>

I do have to say something about the comments on [what amounts to be] company loyalty. In the distant past, you worked for one company for your entire career. You were loyal to them and they were loyal to you. That has gone the way of the dinosaur. While I feel sorry for the worker, it's not my responsibility to give them the training they need to stay employed, that's the [company's] responsibility. (Feel free to laugh, roll eyes or at least show an involuntary sarcastic smirk). So what happens? "We don't need you any more. You're fired." The reality is loyalty on both sides of the paycheck are gone. I can leave (and have) for greener pastures while they can replace me with a typewriter and a chimp if it makes the bottom line better. (Some have claimed there's already no difference, which might explain my typewriter... <LOL>)

IMHO, there's two types of "replacement" technology: the kind that allows a worker to produce more efficiently, and the kind that replaces the worker. With an advance in production technology, that same worker is still doing the job but cranking out exponentially more "widgets". The other kind I'll compare a before and after: consider sorting envelopes at the post office. A crowd of workers visually sorting a mountain of envelopes vs. a scanner and conveyor system. Did it replace the workers? Yes, but it was to keep the PO operating. Imagine it taking three or four weeks to deliver an envelope.

<whew> Sorry for the long rant, typed in like 30 seconds. Too much coffee this morning, and my typewriter's jammed.
Post #1316546
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 6:36 AM
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I don't feel guilty for being part of the technological forces which cause shifts, but I feel a tremendous anger towards those who exploit it with their greed and lies.


You can examine the data and see that the average wage for workers vs inflation hasn't increased in the past thirty years, but the folks at the "top" have reaped most of the monetary rewards. Income inequality will eventually lead to bigger problems than most people want to deal with in their life time.

Post #1316547
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:20 AM
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In the US colonial days, over 90% of the labor was involved in food production. Which means that less than 10% of the labor potential of people was available for other uses (including housing, clothing, transportation, etc). Now that number is reversed, so little of our national labor output is needed for food production that it can provide so many other goods and services. We are all very much richer.

When it comes down to it, you buy with the fruits of your week's labor the combined output a week of other people's labor. Productivity is the only process that actually raises the wealth of society as a whole.




...

-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --
Post #1316593
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:32 AM
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Just a spinning wheel. With new solutions, new problems. We are just finding ways to keep ourselves busy, so we can ignore who we really are (spirit) and the voice of God. Someday we will step off this wheel.
Post #1316608
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:35 AM
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Technologic changes may have nothing to do with a recent college graduates inability to find a job.

My daughter planned to get her degree in forensics. Third year in, her "adviser's" convinced her to change her major to a liberal arts degeree (Political Science) because "the US needs more social workers." From discussions with her, it sounds like a number of her friends were convinced to make similar changes.

Guess who can't get jobs now that they have their "Poli Sci" degrees.

Personally, I am convinced we place far too much enphasis on "get a college degree" and not enough on "learn a marketable skill set."
Post #1316612
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:39 AM


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I am reminded of something my father said to me when I was a little boy. He said "Son, when you become an adult, YOU are responsible for your own lot in life, not someone else." As result, I have only depended on one person to get me what I want and need out of life, ME. It's ultimately up to me. Survive. Adapt. Overcome. No guilt. That's the main problem with our "entitlement" society today. People want stuff just given to them because they feel they are entitled to it. No one wants to pay their dues in either a career or life anymore, they want it ALL now.

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1316622
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:47 AM


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It's a shame that some posters seem to be on the 'hate the rich/managers/etc' political position, because this is actually a good question that we should think about.
Don't think about this in terms of political/social inclination, but in terms of what you are doing with your life.

For the most part in my career I have not 'displaced' anyone. I have freed talented people to do other more vaulable things within the company (that they would have already been doing except those 'necessary' things had to be done by someone).

An example from a decade ago:
my (USA) company put hand held devices into hospital doctors hands so they could code their own diagnosis/procedure (ICD/CPT) sheets.
The coders (people that used to receive those sheets, not programmers) weren't people that just keyed data into the computer - they had very specialized training so they could double check the doctor as they entered the codes into the computer.
They were trained and put in that position to be valuable because a wrong coding can result in a question from the government or insurance company asking for an explanation - which caused more effort and of course delayed payment.

They bought our product so that people (see above +some nurses) could spend more time doing more useful things. The (ICD/CPT) coders can now spend more time with any sheet that didn't look right instead of having to code x sheets/hour, and the nurses no longer had to do what the coders could now do and could spend more time caring for the patients (which increased their job satisfaction).

Was there SOMEONE that was displaced because of my(our) automation actions? Sure, there are always 'unintended consequences'.
The real question is, "Do I feel guilty for improving* patients level of care?" and I answer "No."

Besides, if I'm not adding value, it is me that's going out the door

FWIW,
-Chris C.

*Yes, a nurse that's happier does improve the patients LOC - ever dealt with a grumpy nurse?
Post #1316634
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 8:10 AM
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Chris.C-977504 (6/15/2012)
It's a shame that some posters seem to be on the 'hate the rich/managers/etc' political position, because this is actually a good question that we should think about.


Excellent point. Years ago I had a friend tell me "You will always get what you need, you may never get what you want."

In the US 99% of those demanding "wealth redistribution" do so based on their wants and not on their needs. It's not the greed of others that is the problem. It's their own greed and individual choices that keep them dissatisfied.

Disagree? Look at the people that have come out of abject poverty and/or from other countries that have made it to the top here. They did it by looking for opportunities and making things happen. IE, by exploiting change.

The world will always change around you whether you want it to or not. Those that look for opportunity in the change and work hard to exploit it do quite well in this world. Those of us that sit around complaining about the change fall behind and eventually become extinct.
Post #1316662
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