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A World Without Work

Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond
Written by: Daniel Susskind
Narrated by: Daniel Susskind
Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From mechanical looms to combustion engines to early computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. In the past, such fears have been misplaced, and many economists maintain that they remain so today. Yet in A World Without Work, Daniel Susskind shows why this time really is different. Advances in artificial intelligence mean that all kinds of jobs are increasingly at risk. 

Drawing on almost a decade of research in the field, Susskind argues that machines no longer need to think or reason like us in order to outperform us, as was once widely believed. As a result, more and more tasks that used to be far beyond the capability of computers - from diagnosing illnesses to drafting legal contracts - are now within their reach. The threat of technological unemployment is real. 

So how can we all thrive in a world with less work? Susskind reminds us that technological progress could bring about unprecedented prosperity, solving one of mankind's oldest problems: making sure that everyone has enough to live on. The challenge will be to distribute this prosperity fairly, constrain the burgeoning power of Big Tech and provide meaning in a world where work is no longer the centre of our lives. In this visionary, pragmatic and ultimately hopeful book, Susskind shows us the way. 

©2020 Daniel Susskind (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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A summarised version would be useful.

The author highlights the major changes and disruptions our society is inevitably headed to, as automation and computerisation is increasingly outperforming humans in more and more fields. The "work" as we have known it, in addition to "producing" useful products, also helps to achieve many other equally vital objectives, namely (i) acts as a basis of division of prosperity, (ii) controls and provides Political Power (iii) Gives a senses of purpose to those engaged in work. How should we prepare to achieve these other objectives of "work" in a world that has much less need for human work.
The book is well researched and well presented, thought provoking, and in some cases, presents a different perspective.
The author has omitted an important aspect. In past, since human work was the only way to produce the means of sustenance (what author calls as economic pie), it also helped to limit the human population. Now, with UBI (Or, CBI, Universal or Conditional Basic Income), any one who is born on this earth will have a right to basic means of dignified sustenance. The concept will need a limit on overall population, for it to be practically implementable.
The book reminds me of HG Wells "Time Machine", written 125 years ago, equally relevant today.
The book is a bit too long. A summarised version would be equally good.

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  • Richard H. Merrick
  • 10-02-20

Provoking

I read this based on my appreciation of his previous work on the future of the professions. This book takes the same basis themes, but extends the scope significantly.
When we consider the unsustainability of current levels of inequality, and combine that with the impact of technology to erode, or replace, much of what we currently think of as work, this book provides a great thinking tool. You may or may not agree with his conclusions, but it’s wonderful to have his views to push against. An excellent read.

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  • H Newsam
  • 10-02-20

A very important book

The book looks at why work will be replaced by machines and how we should cope with this change in the 21st century. It will happen... talk to about it, especially to your political representatives!