Human Dignity and Social Status

Peter Drucker talked about this in “Concept of the Corporation.”

“It is perhaps the biggest job of the modern corporation — to find a synthesis between justice and dignity, between equality of opportunities and social status and function.”

One of the thesis discussed by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson in their books was the hollowing out of the middle class primarily because the jobs and careers have been immensely transformed by technology.

What is technology doing to us? Perhaps that is the wrong question to ask. Technology is just a tool. People can use tools for both constructive purposes or un-constructive outcomes.

Is it possible to improve the situation? Leaving machine and AI progress unchecked, we might approach a situation where prosperity (wealth and power) will be reaped by just the precious few, while everyone else endures the hardship.

Some might say this is just natural selection at work. Survival of the fittest.

Many of us in my age group was brought up to be good corporate citizens, to contribute, and to grow with the organizations. In turn, the organization will share the success and prosperity with its employees.

I am not sure that is how the system works anymore. There are still some companies operating with that philosophy, but most organizations treat their people just as a line item in the budget spreadsheet.

I am in the camp of McAfee and Brynjolfsson where we, as a society, need to make some hard choices so the prosperity can be shared. With the participation of its citizens, the policy makers can do more in the areas of education reform, infrastructure investment, flexible immigration, and basic research.

Furthermore, I agree with Drucker… Provide dignity to everyone you work with simply because they are human beings.

Creating Our Digital World

Watched this informative video “Creating Our Digital World with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee” on YouTube and produced by The Commonwealth Club of California.

The discussion over a bit over an hour long, but there were a few key points that I took away from the initial viewing.

  1. The world is undergoing three major digital trends: from “Mind” to “Machine,” from “Product” to “Platform,” and from “Core” to “Crowd.”
  2. What will technology do to us? It is important not lose sight of the fact that technologies have made us a more prosperous world overall. However, a challenge we should be cognizant of is that the wealth generated by technologies might not be fairly or equitably distributed.
  3. Human minds are biased and glitchy. Instead of worrying about the machines taking over the minds, leverage machines to support the human to make better decisions.
  4. Companies with large market share are not necessarily wrong or evil. Concentrated power deserves vigilance. We should act if the concentration of the power leads to consumer harm and stifling of innovation.
  5. The American middle-class has been left to its own device. Shared prosperity can still come from major policy choices we will be making on education reform, infrastructure investment, flexible immigration, and basic research.
  6. Work is meaning for many people. We should do everything we can to identify the new kind of work and retrain people to get into those work. The society should provide avenues that encourage people to change and to thrive in the new environment, rather than just living in the past.

News media and pundits love to discuss the pending doom that technologies and AI are about to bring onto the society. Instead of worrying about or resisting the coming changes that will happen regardless, how about we channel the AI energy to create positive societal changes for everyone?