During this extraordinary time, what are we learning about the answer to the question: What is work? #COVID-19 #future-of-work


Aaron Buchsbaum
 

My 2 cents on “non-essential”:  it is a term whose meaning is relative to the views of The State, not The People (is this Marxist?!) I’m using capital letters to indicate that the term has more to do with a government (federal, state, municipal) looking at what operations will keep basic infrastructure and service systems functioning, and is defined to help balance against some threat that would otherwise lead to the choice to close those operations. More US-based info is here and here. What I’d like people to take away is that “non-essential” during a global pandemic with an infection and fatality rate higher than the seasonal flu, is not necessarily “non-essential” to people’s social and mental well-being generally.

 

Put very short, I look forward to my haircuts and worry my barber will be closed come September.

Wishing everyone good health…

 

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Aaron Buchsbaum | Knowledge Management Officer

The World Bank. Washington, DC

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Murray Jennex
 

Good questions Tom, I'll just address one of them.  My observation on the nonessential work is that this is the work of social interaction: bar tenders, wait staff, clerks, etc.  I'm not sure I'd want these jobs automated, they are a social glue that holds a lot of society together.  Perhaps another question to ask is should teachers be automated or are we going to have a wasted year of no education?  I think higher education can make online work but I just don't see how this will work with elementary kids.....murray


-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Short <tshortconsulting@...>
To: SIKM@groups.io
Sent: Thu, Apr 2, 2020 7:00 pm
Subject: [SIKM] During this extraordinary time, what are we learning about the answer to the question: What is work? #covid-19 #futureofwork

What is work, anyways? Just as our streets have gone quiet and wildlife have started to return to areas they had long since abandoned, the worldwide near-shutdown of the economy is providing an interesting glimpse into what constitutes work in this early part of the 21st century. I even read today that seismologists are having a field day with  all the quiet - the vibrations in the Earth’s crust that are normally muddied by human terrestrial activity have subsided to such a great extent that they’re now able to more  easily get more information from the noise-free data obtained from their hypersensitive seismic sensors.

With unemployment applications skyrocketing in the US, one can’t help but wonder what were all these people doing, and why is their work now considered non-essential? The service economy or knowledge economy that we’ve built consists of workers who are not making things, but manipulating symbols and information in ways that create value. Or they’re providing non-essential services for those who do the symbol manipulation. Hairdressers, dentists, food service staff, live entertainers and events staff - without the symbol manipulators, their jobs either wouldn’t exist at all or would exist in smaller numbers.

What do you make of this? What are the implications for the future of work?? How much of this “non-essential” work could be automated? Or perhaps, more important, how much of the symbol manipulation work could be - or will be soon - automated? Should it be? What will we gain? What will we lose? 

This whole thought just popped out as I was watching the news this evening. I find myself fascinated by watching what is happening as it unfolds. It certainly is not the happiest of times, that’s for sure. But it certainly is a unique opportunity to observe the world we’ve created for ourselves in the unusual light of extreme, universal duress.

Hope you’re keeping healthy and staying optimistic. 
Best, 

--
-Tom
--
Tom Short Consulting
TSC

+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts


 

What is work, anyways? Just as our streets have gone quiet and wildlife have started to return to areas they had long since abandoned, the worldwide near-shutdown of the economy is providing an interesting glimpse into what constitutes work in this early part of the 21st century. I even read today that seismologists are having a field day with  all the quiet - the vibrations in the Earth’s crust that are normally muddied by human terrestrial activity have subsided to such a great extent that they’re now able to more  easily get more information from the noise-free data obtained from their hypersensitive seismic sensors.

With unemployment applications skyrocketing in the US, one can’t help but wonder what were all these people doing, and why is their work now considered non-essential? The service economy or knowledge economy that we’ve built consists of workers who are not making things, but manipulating symbols and information in ways that create value. Or they’re providing non-essential services for those who do the symbol manipulation. Hairdressers, dentists, food service staff, live entertainers and events staff - without the symbol manipulators, their jobs either wouldn’t exist at all or would exist in smaller numbers.

What do you make of this? What are the implications for the future of work?? How much of this “non-essential” work could be automated? Or perhaps, more important, how much of the symbol manipulation work could be - or will be soon - automated? Should it be? What will we gain? What will we lose? 

This whole thought just popped out as I was watching the news this evening. I find myself fascinated by watching what is happening as it unfolds. It certainly is not the happiest of times, that’s for sure. But it certainly is a unique opportunity to observe the world we’ve created for ourselves in the unusual light of extreme, universal duress.

Hope you’re keeping healthy and staying optimistic. 
Best, 

--
-Tom
--

Tom Short Consulting
TSC

+1 415 300 7457

All of my previous SIKM Posts