Louis Hyman: "Temp: How American Work, American Business, And the American [...]" | Talks at Google
Thank. You so much for having me here today and thank you Rachel, professor, dr. Rachel professor Hyman and. As. A professor I'm here to remind, you of lessons, that you may have learned, long ago when. We learn about the, industrial, revolution, in school we hear a lot about factories. And steam, engines, and maybe. If you had a really particularly. Terrible. Teacher. The power loom and. We are taught that this technological, innovation. Drives, social. Change explains. How, the. World works and has. Made, it possible to work in the way that we do now. Likewise we talk about today's economy we focus, on smartphones. Artificial. Intelligence, apps and here. Too the inexorable, march of, technology is, thought to be responsible, for disrupting. Traditional, work for, phasing out the employee, who, works for a regular wage or a salary and phasing. In independent, contractors. Consultants. Temps. And freelancers, of, course none of whom are at Google. This. So-called gig economy. But. This narrative is wrong this. Narrative is wrong the. History of labor shows the technology, does not usually, drive, social, change, on, the contrary, social. Change is driven, by decisions. About reorganizing people. That, reorganize, our work only, later does technology swoop, in accelerate. And consolidate. Those, changes. This. Insight, that. It's not just, technological. Determinism, it's. Not just market. Determinism. It's, crucial, for anyone, who wants to understand, the insecurities. And other shortcomings, of the, gig economy and. More. Broadly our economy. Today, for. It reminds, us that far from being the unavoidable. Consequence. Of progress. The. Nature of work is part, of our social fabric that. Progress. Technological. Or otherwise does, not require, insecurity. Consider. The Industrial, Revolution well, before it took place in, the 19th century another. Revolution. In work took, place in the 18th, century which, historians call the industrious. Revolution, before. This revolution, people worked where they lived on a farm or in a shop the. Manufacturing. Of textiles. For. Instance relied on networks, of independent, farmers who, spun and wolf, cloth, they, worked on their own they. Were not employees in, the. Industrious, revolution. Manufacturers. Gathered, workers, under, one roof where, the work could be divided and, supervised. For. The first time on, a large scale home. Life and work life were, separated, and so. This, was a, precondition. For the industrial. Revolution. While, factory technology, would consolidate this development, the creation, of Factory technology, was only, possible because, people, were. Already in the, factories. Solving. For this world a power loom would, have no purpose if people, still worked in their houses, and, the. Story continues today, and, what I call in the book the second. Industrious, revolution in. Today's digital revolution. In the world in the economy, that, has come into being since, the 1970s. It's. Often described as a, second, machine age, but, it's more like, a second, industrious, revolution, it's. Been underway for at least 40 years, encompassing. The collapse since the 1970s. Of the, relatively, secure work of the, post-war, period this. Is the post industrialization. This is the, rise, of the service economy and, over these four decades, we've, seen an increase in the use of day laborers, office. Temps, management. Consultants, contract. Assemblers. Adjunct. Professors. Blackwater. Mercenaries and. Every, other kind, of person. Filing. IRS. Form, 1099. These. Jobs span the income wrecks but, what they share in common is. All work increasingly, seems, to have in common since, the 1970s. In, security. This. Is possible, because of the way in which work, has, bound become, to be organized workers, are no clothes no longer as closely bound to, employers.
For Good and for bad and all the tech of the, gig economy all, the apps of your, smartphone, is the. Results, of that, for. Some the rise the gay economy, represents liberation. From, the stifling, bureaucratic. World of corporate America high, paid consultants. Well-paid. Independent, contractors. Is a return, to the autonomy, and independence of, an economy, before, wage, labor. No. Desk no. Boss, every. Consultant his or her own master. Yet. For the majority of workers this. So-called freedom, of the gig economy is, just the freedom to be afraid it. Is a severing, of obligations, between, firms, and employers, please, is the, collapse of protections, that the, people of the United States and our laws and our customs, once, fought hard to enshrine. Internet. Technologies, have certainly intensified. This development, even, though most freelancers. Remain. Offline, but. Services, like uber and online freelance, markets, like TaskRabbit, or up work were created to take advantage, of an already independent. Workforce, they. Are not creating, it the technology, is solving, the business, and consumer. Problems, of an already insecure. World of work. Uber. Is the symptom not. The cause. Ooh BRR, is the, waste product, of the service economy. So. Today I would like to talk about just one small part of this book which, tells the story of how, Americans. Created, security, in the years coming, out of the Great Depression in World War two and then. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Dismantled. It this. Larger, history is about, how the, corporation, in the workplace, have changed since the 1930s. It is a story of who counts, and who doesn't, counts who, is included and who is excluded, how. Workplace. Stability. How a secure, job stopped. Being a, something. To be celebrated and, instead, became a problem, to. Be solved, by consultants. The. Story I'm telling today is part, of the story of Silicon. Valley which I explore, in depth, in the book this. Story here is about temp workers and, undocumented. Migrants, and legal migrants, at, the very bottom of the Silicon, Valley world, the world that's often not discussed, when, we read those, biographies. Of Steve Jobs or. The, woz or, these, other so-called leaders, of Silicon.
Valley So. Today I'd like to tell you a different story of a place with which you're probably already familiar. So. Just as the agricultural economy was. Born between two great rivers the. Tigris and Euphrates. So. As the digital economy born, between, two great highways. 101. And 280 or if you're from Southern California the. 100 won and the 280 so. Connecting. San Jose to San Francisco, these highways define, the eastern, and western borders. Of Silicon Valley which, had until, the 1950s, mostly. Been fruit trees in the, 1960s. As the, electronics, industry grew. These trees were cut down to. Make way for factories. And offices. Now. Today's Silicon, Valley is mostly known for its apps but. In the 70s, and 80s it, was still a place where products, first. Transistors. And then whole chips were, made and by, the 1980s, electronics, was the largest manufacturing. Industry. In the, United States it was what economists called the leading sector, the place that was driving, change, driving. Profits, and Silicon. Valley's factories, left, Detroit's, far. Behind, the. 1980s. Detroit. Falters, San. Jose thrives, Japan. Might have made better cars but we made better computers. And if, American, manufacturing. Was to be successful. If America, still had a claim on the future if, erica was still seen as a leader in progress it. Was in Silicon Valley. The. Electronics, industry, validated. New ways to think, about capitalism. Since, it unlike, any previous, leading, sector depended. On short-term. Flexible. Workforces. Depended. On venture, capital, defended. On new, lean ways of manufacturing new. Kinds of supply chains new, kinds of subcontracted. Workforces, in a way that the Detroit never. Had. Unions. Were nowhere to be found and the, sporadic organizing. Campaigns, of the 60s, 70s and 80s all failed. Silicon. Valley became the laboratory. And the, blueprint, for. A lean, American. Capitalism. Apple. Never produced, the good life for, its line workers, like, General Motors did and the. Story of flexibility, in Silicon Valley is not just the insecurity, of the workers on the bottom but of course the success of workers. At the top of the venture, capitalists, that move from startup to startup, of software. Engineers, who hop from project, to project of, consultants. Designing. Strategies, and organizational. Structures, to, maximize, profits, and flexibility. And, that's a story that we're more familiar with. But. Underneath that world were, layers of formal, and informal workers. Of migrants. These, migrants, worked in large assembly, factories, small. Quonset, huts and even, in their own kitchens, making. The electronics, that, made those venture, capitalists, wealthy and even, though they are usually left out of the story of Silicon, Valley they, are essential. To. Its rise. From. Top to bottom Silicon. Valley defines, a new universal. Model of business. Even as its own industry electronics. And then, software, were, unique and. It's interesting what's hidden by the stories, we tell as well, as the graphs this. Is a graph that everybody. Here knows it's, a graph of Moore's. Law which. Becomes with the rise of electronics, the new time signature, of, capitalism, twice. As many transistors, crammed. On chips every 18 months look, at it it's so smooth it's so logarithmic. This. Pace. Of miniature ation miniaturization. Is astounding, it, also has other consequences it's. Impossible, for firms to earn much money before, they, have to move on to the next kind of chip and this, punishing, cycle, made. Electronics. A very, different kind of industry, than in for, instance aerospace. Where. The same machines could be used for year after year on. The same kinds, of bodies, or even in cars. So. Work couldn't. Be as mechanized. As in, an earlier economy, it had to be more, flexible and, this, flexibility, depended, on people, especially. Cheap, people especially. Disposable. Workers and so. The flexibility, of this production of Moore's, law just. Was, not from engineering, wizardry, as much. As it was from workers. So. As we this is one part of one chapter in the book and the first part of the chapter is about, that that, world of consultants. And business, leaders the story of Steve Jobs the story of McKinsey. Remaking. Silicon. Valley it's a story that you can see in this. Slide, here the, story of the corporation. From top to bottom of, consultants. And temps and subcontracted. Workers, undocumented. Workers, but, today I want to talk about the. People at the very bottom as this new kind of leading, sector, emerges. And if, we think about the word temp and this. Book is going to annoy lots of social scientists. Because, they like they're, like oh that just means office workers like well yeah. But, really it's a more expansive, category. Of flexibility, and this kind of, woman. Is probably the woman you imagine, coming out of the post war who, may work as, an office temp a white, woman slender. And beautiful, sheer, she's really a housewife, but really she goes sometimes.
To Work this is certainly the story that's told by. People like. Or winter who started manpower, incorporated. That this is all discretionary. This kind of work is a choice for. Middle-class. White women but. These is not the kind of woman I want you to think about as we, are exploring. This hidden history of Silicon, Valley I want. You to think of faces like this I want, you to think of hands. Like, this women, who need to work and of, course the many people whose, faces we don't have pictures of who, remained undocumented. Even, as their work made Silicon, Valley possible. Every. Year after 1965. The. I&S apprehended, more, what they called illegal aliens, in industry. And service than in agriculture, and in fact these undocumented. Workers, were foundational, to the rise of Silicon, Valley now. This is perhaps, ironic. That workers, matter so, much in Silicon, Valley because, of course if we imagine a place that, would be automated, that would be this. Future. Kind of world, it would be electronics. Apple. For instance and I can say this because I'm at Google not Apple. Which. I'm understand, what you guys are all excited about Apple, that iconic, Silicon, Valley firm brag, in 1984. That the factory, for its new computer, something, called the, Macintosh. Would. Be the most automated, in the world and everywhere. They, celebrated, this a machine that builds machines it's. Amazing, it's, highly, automated it's. The future its, its robots, it's everything, we imagine, about the world to come and yet. Apples factory like, all other electronics. Factories, was, shockingly. Old-fashioned. It. Had some robots you, know on, the, line there but. To understand, the electronics, industry is, very, very. Simple. Every. Time someone, says robot, simply. Picture instead a migrant. Woman of color. Instead. Of self-aware, robots, workers, nearly, all women and mostly immigrant, hunched, over tables with, magnifying, glasses assembling. Parts, in, the entire world in 1986. Only, two industries, accounted, according. To that left-wing, propaganda. Instrument. McKinsey, quarterly, for. 80%, of, installed, robots in aerospace, and automating, and these. Workplaces, of, these, are all pictures of the first Macintosh plants, these, workplaces, were organized, in accordance with new lean, manufacturing, principles. Historians. Often talk about the Mimi factory, that collaboration. Between General, Motors and Toyota where. Today of course Tesla, has its, own factory, that, was across the street from the first Macintosh, plant, in Fremont. California they. Were both of the same moment the same ideas, of flexible. Production of, pushing. Things out into the supply chain but, of course with auto manufacturing. That supply chain was very visible, the. Supply chains of these places, were, instead these, electronics, firms were, more hidden. Instead. Of robots Silicon Valley relied upon a transient, workforce, if they were white and native-born they were temps, if they weren't then they were the laborers, who worked by the day or by the.
Piece Tech. Firms outsource labor, to temp agencies. Subcontracted. Sweatshops, and overseas. Factories, eventually. So. Let's tell the story of, this let's. Tell the story of, John Senko, who, in 1984, was, an 18-year veteran, of the AI NS the, forerunner, of today's ice, and, it opens its first office in San Jose and. Begins to oversee, the immigration, issues in Silicon Valley the. I&S believe that as much as 25%, of, the Silicon Valley workforce. About, 200,000. People was. Undocumented. San'ko's. Tasks was simple and yet. Impossible. Eliminate. Illegal, labor in Silicon. Valley the. Office had only four investigators. And was chronically, under-resourced. Senko, said quote. It's difficult, to make people realize because. The nature of the industry, illegal. Aliens, are working, here it's, hard because high, technology, is a sophisticated, industry. And it was easy to believe that, no part of the production was unskilled. Behind. Graphs of, this. World the people were. There were people who were not officially, part of that work force behind. Grass of growth were, workers like, a woman named Fermina whose, name actually wasn't for me now it's a. Fake. Name I'm used in the book whose. Names aren't as actually, well known as, IBM. PC, or Apple. - in. 1982. Fermina, had worked at an electronics, assembly plant, in Tijuana, where, she had earned 65, cents an hour quote, soldering, gold filaments, two nodes neatly marked, on printed circuits, for, about three years she. Appeared hour after, hour through her microscope bonding. Semiconductors. Then. The peso destabilized. And for me to cross the border to stay with relatives and, look for work looking. In the newspaper she, called a number where, she could even inquire about jobs, she had once left behind she, could even do it in Spanish she, felt very welcomed, in, her new country, and, she found her old job bonding. Semiconductors. But, this time it was an assembly, plant that, made parts for personal, computers instead. Of 65, cents an hour she, now got five dollars in, the. Plant hundreds, of Mexicans, along worked alongside Firmino, many, of them undocumented, just, like her for. Mina it was a great paying job and for, the firm it was a great paying very. Cheap employee, for. Fermina and like hurt people like her it enabled, great profits, in. 1983. This, Factory, was the fourth largest supplier, of personal, computers, in the United States with, sales of 75. Million and profits. Of 13. Million. So. That sounds good it seems like a win-win situation. But. You, see the her life was in fact quite insecure, because. When the AI NS raid came through in November. Of 1984. Fermina, hid in a supply closet terrified. For. Mean escaped, but, 50 of her co-workers nearly. All Mexican, women were, put in vans for deportation. Quote. I came, to this country to work hard, but now I live torn between duty and shame. Fermina. Was not alone other. High-profile. I&S, raids found firms that employed on average, about half of their assembly workforces illegally, scholars. Estimate that, about a hundred thousand, Hispanic. Women largely, undocumented, worked, in electronics, just, in Southern California. At. The other end consider. The life of the temp Dennis. Hayes a world, just. Recently the Ampex sign was taken down and I for, one was very surprised, and not here this history told about the, history of that iconic Silicon. Valley firm but. In the story of Dennis Hayes we can see the story of the interconnection. Between the. White native-born, a workforce. And this other hidden world of subcontracting. Dennis. Hayes had dropped out of his ph.d program in sociology and, he came to California to. Start temping, in 1980. And. He made of hate attempting, temping, but he noticed that he didn't have the worst job in the valley Hayes. Noticed that this futuristic, economy. Rested. On a very, old idea, give. The dirty dangerous work, to, people who had no alternative. Hayes. Tempt, at Ampex, which. Was then a leading, audio electronics. Firm and he worked on the his floor of the assembly room, but, he didn't put anything together in, that, room was, like most assembly rooms in Silicon, Valley nearly.
All Women mostly. Women of color and they. Put the parts. Together there, with, tools that, were ancient much, older than transistors. Much, older than, screwdrivers. Even. Older than the axe they. Used their fingernails. These. Women would grow two or, three strategically. Long fingernails. On each hand so they could move the components, onto the. Circuit, boards. Ampex. Was not unique, this. All came through this. World. Of work, depended. On fingernails, and not, automation. Now. What did Dennis Hayes do there if he, did not actually. Put. Things together, well. His job was to deliver and, pick up components. From. Subcontractors. The, metal shops, high-end. Audio was made possible, by low-end subcontracting. And in, this regard it was not just about finding cheap worker or cheap suppliers, or vendors but. Subcontracting. Out toxic. Work to. Places and people that, were not part of OSHA regulations. So. Hayes would drive to a dirt floor quads, and Hut in Santa, Clara inside. Of which were Hispanic, workers in rubber, boot when I go like this it means I'm courting because I'm a historian and rubber, boots gloves an apron and without, respiratory, masks. The. Front and back doors and these quasi Hut's were open some, passively, turning, fans were in the ceiling but, otherwise there was no ventilation, the, workers moved, around quickly stoking. Fire's beneath vats, of chemicals, fires. That's. Boiling. Chemicals. Climbing. Up and down the jerry-built, platforms. Which, gave access to the vats some. Of the vets boiled, others, untouched, by the fires yielded. The smoke of the chemical reaction, he. Was there to drop off chassis, panels nuts and screws made. In the amp exes factory and these subcontracted. Workers dipped, the unfinished, alloys, in their, vats, Hayes. Was only there for minutes at a time but, he wrote that the foul metallic. Odors, made me want to hold my breath, Hayes. Never spoke to the workers there only to the boss who, spoke to him in English while. Commanding the workers in Spanish. So. The point of this. System. Of production. Was not just to find cheaper, but to avoid legal, action, this, is tort liable, work outsourced. To a network, of employees, to, act as intermediaries. No. Official employee of Ampex, delivered. Or picked up the, panels nuts and screws so. No official, employee of Ampex could ever really know the. Conditions, under which this chemistry, took place if. There was a legal problem with one of these VAT filled Quonset, huts it would have been easy to disappear into. Just another anonymous. Quonset. Hut and, so, clean rooms of high technology, are built, atop a foundation, a very, dirty very toxic quads and huts and. Of course today Santa Clara County has more EPA, Superfund. Sites than, any other county. In the United States. At. The very bottom of this system. Of electronics, manufacture, was, not the small factory, or the Quonset, hut but, kitchens. Investigators. Found that, somewhere, between 10, and 30% of electronics. Firms, subcontracted. To what they called. Quote, home, workers like. Garment workers, taking and sewing in the 1880s. Electronics. Workers could assemble parts in their kitchens a mother. And her children gathered. Around a kitchen table assembling. Components, for, seven cents apiece these. Little shops put together the boards and that went to the big companies, a California. Labor Inspector, turned a blind, eye saying, quote a Mexican. Or Vietnamese, can, take home a thousand, coils for wiring one evening, and put, in every close neighbor and family member to work and return. The next day to. The plant it's. Not even worth our time trying. To wipe it out when, there are people eager, to work for pennies you can expect that kind of thing to. Happen end, quote. It. Was their fault, for being, eager. To. Work for pennies. Well. The image of the Silicon, Valley was, futuristic its, methods, were, more that of 19th, century tenements. These. Home workers offered, firms a cheap labor force but, the real appeal was of course, flexibility. Chip. Processing. Fluctuated. Like. Car's computer. Demands, varied, through the year both for consumers. Holidays. New school, year and. For. Changes, in technology. Ah the new cycle. Of chips the, tik-tok, as we call it today and, as.
Demand Went up and down these, firms had no obligation. To the home workers so, these kitchens, and Quonset, huts would open as close. Now. The exact number, how many firms how, many chips is, hard to point down exactly, because, itself, was, a subterfuge. Behind. The big expensive plants, were vast networks, of other workers. Tellingly. More firms in the nights early 1980s, at least in various, business surveys. Subcontracted. To exactly, these kinds of home workers than, offshore, plants. Anyhow. What. Did the I&S do about this. This. Is uh as you, imagine there's not many pictures, but, this is a picture of a binder, volume, 8 entitled. Illegal, aliens from. The AI NS library just to give you a sense of what that world looks like. The. AI NS encouraged, the large companies, to cooperate, by offering them lenience, but, for giving up their quote illegal aliens, at circuit. Assembly corporation. In San Jose the. AI NS asked for names of its non citizen, non. Documented. Employees, of. The 250, names the company thought that quote 20, or 30 of them could be using forged papers, the. Actual number was a hundred and eighty-seven. 187. Out of 250. And the, company because it cooperated. Received, no penalties, no sanctions, and according, to senko simply, replaced those 187. With other workers while. Those, workers, are themselves deported. When. Senko came to. San. Jose in 1984. He, raided not just workplaces, but neighborhoods, in Menlo, Park, just. Near Stanford, ans, agents, blocked the streets, removing. Hispanic, males from, cars and from homes checking. Them for proof of citizenship, in Santa. Cruz the inss went door to door checking. Citizenship. Senko, and the AI NS agents, to believe they did not need warrants, to, name names ahead of time, now, of course local, governments, pushed back the San Jose government, pushed back against, the eyeness in, the name of defending quote, Chicano, citizens, against. Harassment passing. A resolution against. This quote ond warranted. Disruption, of the business community. In December. 1985. San, Francisco, declares, itself a sanctuary, city and, directs its police and officials not. To assist, the I&S in finding. Law abiding but undocumented, migrants. So. What happens then does all this end no. The. I&S enforcement, becomes more selective, which, actually, enables Silicon, Valley corporations. To, have even more power, over. Their undocumented, workforce.
Businesses. Could selectively, check green cards against. An AI NS database, if, workers. Began to organize or push, back in any way against their bosses, they, could be deported. The, spokesperson. For the International. Association of, Machinists explained. That when everyone tried to organize the, company, threatened, to have anyone in the Union deported. What. About John cenk oh let's. Not forget, about his, travails his, troubles, as an, AI NS agents, here in San Jose well. For him it was the worst three years of his life he. Came. To believe if he was actually successful, in deporting. Undocumented. Workers, from Silicon Valley we'd. Have a revolution, he. Prefered he said businesses, to cooperate, rather, than to have them raided but, that missed the point, the. Low cost of the undocumented, as well, as their willingness their, need to work in, illegal. Conditions, in. Toxic. Situations. Made. Them too, valuable to, necessary. To, the Silicon, Valley economy. This. Economy, former. I ns had told. A newspaper around that time was. Built on the assumption reality. Of a, heavy influx. Of illegal labor. This. Head, of the former head of the AI NS was not just referring to the electronics, industry but, the entire economy of the, American West this. New American economy, that was looked to by the rest of America as the, future as the most influential. As, the most successful. Was. An economy. That was built on the backs of people who. Had few, rights built. On the backs of those excluded, built. On the backs of those who were so hard pressed they, put their children to work in their. Own kitchens. By. The end of the 1980s, these kinds of operations, left the Bay Area leaving, behind the, people who had made this new accumulation, of wealth, possible. And of course the country's largest, Superfund. Sites this, is a picture of two people that were placed that, train, their own replacements, in Singapore, before. Apple. Moved overseas look how happy they are they're, so proud, now. Why. Am I telling you this story I'm telling you a story of the 1980s, which at this point is a long time ago and I'm not telling you the story of the, people who are above this the world of consultants. And attempts and all, those independent, contractors, these people are important. To to this story, but. I'm telling, you this story today this history, because, it's similar to how we are talking, about the, future now.
Just. As Apple, talked, about a world of automation, and delivered. A world of exploitation. So. Too we. Hear the same kind of language obscuring. A certain kind of reality today, the. Language of robots, and AI still. Do this cultural. And linguistic work of erasing. The present-day workforce, both, visible, and invisible. These. Workers, are, transitionary. These, workers, are disposable. The. Low paid contingent. Workers of Silicon Valley do, not count because someday. They. Will be replaced by an AI or, so we hear, it's. Not a coincidence that, these transitional, workers look, nothing, like the, engineers, that are the face of Silicon, Valley the. Plight of uber drivers, doesn't, really matter as its, CEO tells, us and I'm pretty sure I'm mispronouncing it, when I call him Travis, kalanick. Because. Of source some de niro, machine, learning AI will, take it over these. People are a transition. To a better world to come and it doesn't matter how they suffer. But, yet somehow this, future never comes to them this, ever receding, future seems. To legitimate, a very, real very, unequal seemingly. Unending present. So. As we think about the future as we. Go there we are the rotten apple as we, think about the future we have to ask again and again the. Same question who. Counts who. Deserves if not, guaranteed, work at least, secure lives who, matters, we. Must as we think about this also not forget that even for those post-war, white men those. Who men who got pensions, and defined, benefits, men. Who had the good paychecks. Working. On in the assembly line or in a mine, or even in an office in a factory, was, dehumanizing. Sometimes, back-breaking, but, most often soul, breaking, work whatever. The wages and benefits humans. Should not do the, work of robots. So. It's not simply that we should give up on automation, we should give up on robotics. We should give up on the, future but. That we should think about the future, kaga. Cently of how, the past has used the future to. Erase the present. We. Can't turn back the clock to a world that was never as great as we imagined, it was to, an America that was never as wonderful, as we often hear it was. But. Progress does not require insecurity. Just as. The post-war, period managed, to make industrialization. Benefit, some, industrial, workers to create give some, people, this level of security we need to create new norms.
Institutions. And policies, to, make digitization. Benefit. Everyone. Today. It's. Important, as we make choices going, into this world whether conservative. Or liberal that this world of independent work this world of automation, is coming, and that we need to remember that we have a choices about how it play out that. The distribution. Of wealth and productivity, is not. In just an economic, reality, but, a political choice, so. Just as the industrial, economy offered. Inequality, and growth for, a hundred, years, before. It produced the quote good life so. It's the digital economy and. We need to understand, that this flexible, workforce can depending. On the choices that we make be, the liberation, from wage work that Americans, have, so long so long yearn. For or. To, be emitter, ated to be damned too insecure life in an unequal, Society. And as, we choose this world before us we. Should not make the mistakes of the past creating. A more inclusive capitalism, that. Accounts, for everybody. Insecurity. Is not the inevitable cost nor does progress require. Treating. People like machines, only. By understanding that, fact can we make capitalism, work for, us not. Work us over, thank. You so much happy, to be here today. Sounds. Like one, of the primary reasons that undocumented. Workers, were able to be exploited, was because they were undocumented. How. Do you feel about open, borders. Yeah. I'm actually very. Much I mean so in the book I take account of all these different approaches so what are the approaches people often say is well. We should have sanctions, right, against, employers if you hire someone wasn't documented you know we should sanction, the employer and in fact in 1970. The, state of California, and a governor, Ronald Reagan former movie actor. Passes. The law to do this and in. Fact that, following. Month. After was passed the department, responsible for it lost 79 out of 80 employees, leaving. One person to enforce the law in the whole state that, law was actually never enforced ever and again, and again there is an appeal to this idea that we can simply solve this, problem, of excluding, exploiting, people by, sanctioning. Employers. And it's, never happened, ever there's too much pressure on the other hand to, for, large corporations, so I think we do need to have open, borders we, need to make sure at least we, need to make sure that people who are here are, protected, in the same kinds of laws and rights. People, who are citizens, of this country. Did. I bomb everybody out I have. A question, yeah so if the robots are going to make everything, what, about basic income for everybody else so that you know if, I own the robot I'll send it to work and and I, can relax sure, this is this is often like what about the basic income so, in the future people will be worthless in. The future all, that will matter will, be programmers, and. Other technologists. And engineers and, I. Talked about this is often something I hear like oh I'm the only one it's worthwhile well I. Think. That there are actually, lots of things that people do they're worthwhile besides, computer programming, and, I, think as we look to the future as I think actually you guys all agree as. We look to the future, we. Should be thinking about how, we can use technology to. Liberate. Us do work that is more, human, you know just as the mechanical, Thresher, meant that we didn't have to all go in and reap. The harvest we, can use automation, to liberate, us from tedium, from, paperwork, and this is something we have to take account of as we think, about the future how, work, can, become more, human, we, can become caring, and curious. And creative together, and. The basic income is certainly one approach to, do this it's certainly a very liberal approach it's approach that, has a lot of Appeal but it also is in contrast to a lot of the political values, that Americans have so, another approach a more conservative approach would, simply be do, something that is modeled, on the 401 K where as you move from job to job you.
Are Able to, take. Your retirement, and health care and other kinds of benefits with you I think what's important, here is not the specific, policy, that, we use to address this new independent, work force or even automation. It's. That we need to make sure that we're not just nostalgic. For the past and try to return to this, old world whether whether you're a Republican, or a Democrat, I also. Think that as we think about solutions to. This we. Need, to acknowledge, that. The. Automation. Has never fully replaced, the need for people and. That people will always be a. Once. Since I got from, this talk was that automation. You. Said, Apple kept. Claiming that they were going to do and fully automated. Factories. But it seems like that will, not happen that the, temp work will just change, hands, in this case from. The. Silicon. Valley to Singapore, and then, from Singapore. Maybe to somewhere else. Is. That a conclusion, that you have come to or, do, you think that we. Will eventually reach a point that. Automation. Does. Actually, happen. Well. Automation, has certainly already, happened in the sense of increasing. Productivity. Right, I mean if you think about things like agriculture. The best analog is not the, in the AI world, of tomorrow is not industry. Its its agriculture, so that less than 2% of the workforce now, feeds, all the, rest of us and. Those. People are able to do other kinds of things the thing I think, the, rhetorical. Value. The rhetorical. Consequent. Of automation. And robotics, is, imagining, a future in which the present is erased right and that some people are left out of this, new economy. Or. The contemporary, economy, and treated badly and that's the kind of thing that. I'm. Trying to push back against, I think in this history yeah and it just seems, like one. One, source. One one. Person. To erase has been erased they'll, just move on to the next one I mean. Yeah it seems, like it's gonna keep, going that way that we're never going to actually. Get. That perfect. Automation. We'll just find another group, well. That would be unfortunate I'd like to think that we'd, be able to make progress and, not just playing whack-a-mole where, we're the moles that get whacked all. Around the world because of automation, I do, think automation you know there's. A lot of ways in which narrow AI has. A lot of opportunities, here as I'm sure you all of you can talk to me more about then, I can talk to you about and. Machine learning is exciting. But I do think it's gonna be you know relatively, constrained, and not sort of take over every aspect of life of, course I don't think it's going to take over every aspect right.
Now I'm just probably. Badly, extrapolating. From the story, shown. In the this. Talk so far well. I think that's also a good put so the question is you know fundamentally, can. Things get better is that what you're saying, and I think one of the things that we can learn from the history of capitalism is that it can be more inclusive I think things that in our economy is more inclusive than it was 40, years ago it's certainly more inclusive than it was 400, years ago and we. Can change the foundations of, capitalism, as we want so in. 1850. Fifty five percent of the, GDP of America, was, based on enslaved, people or the products, they produced and yet, 10-15, years and 15 years later it's, not and. So we can read more the foundation, for me this is a tremendous. Opportunity to, think about well, how do we remake, capitalism. So that it works for more, people you, know and I, think that's something we need to consider as we won't, we whether we want automation, to make few people rich or whether we want it to just. Or. To liberate, the rest of us yeah and I guess my point it's not that things don't get better it's. More how long can we keep what, can this game keep, being played for because so. Far at least for, now it seems like that's what we're doing we're just going to keep playing this game I think we have a choice about playing the game and I think that's a that's a great point though it's a great point so you. Mentioned that automation. Cannot, compete you to please people so. Automation. Does we please people entirely let's, say if you have a machines, data as a smart ass, intelligent. And creative as humans, yeah at that point I mean from your perspective, what, do you think what. Would happen so in that scenario how would that change. Society. Yes you know well, I mean I think I think people are valuable not just because they're smart right so people are valuable in so far as they can care for one another insofar, as they can create for one another, so. If we're if you're just talking about a future where, you're. Like a West world general AI scenario. Or the robots are as smart as us yes. So imagine, Terminator. Scenario I mean which may, not be. But.
Let's, See if that happens. Yeah. No I mean I I would be it, would. Fall and like most science fiction it would fall into the hundred percent dystopian, and scary. Or a hundred percent utopian. And kind, of boring right we would just sit around to see ting ice cream all day which. Is boring but kind of wonderful. My. Suspicion, is it's gonna be more like the mechanical thresher in that, technologies. Will accelerate productivity. They, will displace segments, of the workforce and we'll have to figure out and how what, to do with the rest of the people so, coming out of this agricultural revolution we, had to really tool up the way we educated, our people so that this is the moat when people become literate, when they, begin to go to school in the 1920s, and 30s and you. Know that kind of industrial education worked, well for an industrial age and we found other uses, for them so, I think the the trick is nowadays, our educational, system is not built to teach people how to learn how to learn it's, built to teach them to obey and, we, need to have an educational, system that does encourage curiosity, and creativity. For. The new kind of economy to come if this happens, I don't, think history. Will matter at all because that kind of world. Of general AI will. Be just something that I, probably, imagined you or I can't, fully think, about yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I know the focus, of your talk was primarily, on the past and how we should use it to frame the way that we think about the president how we want to mold the future I was more focused on generalities, rather than specific, public policy you mentioned corporate sanctions is an idea that we shouldn't try but, surely there must be public policies, that you think we should be advocating for you, know either internally, as members of a corporation, or citizens. Who vote in order, to shape the future that would be more pleasant what. Are some of those policies some, of those policies are laid out on this delightful book available for sale in, the back of the room I've already bought mine oh you could do the same they make wonderful door stops or. Kindling, depending on your proclivities, so. I think that the. There's there. Are lots of policies, that one, can go in the book I lay out both very conservative, ones so you can talk, about it with your Republican friends you. Can also talk about it with your liberal friends I think what's important, is that we don't we choose to make to. Recognize, what's happening that this is that, you, know half of people under 34 are working in this freelance economy right. And this gig economy and this temp economy, and. That, this, reality, is not being talked about right we are treating, it as this, is not real work this is not real job well this is where people are right, and I think that this book is trying. To put that in a longer perspective so, people. Talk about it as if it's uber and the apps and the phones and stuff like that well it's been going on for a long time and. We, need to understand, that it's choices, we're making about you, know big corporations, how, they treat the, people who work, for them in a temporary fashion, large tech firms often, have numbers, of contractors. You, know and other kinds of subcontractors. You know what is the relationship, between them and the quote real employees, you, know what, is the how do we even value. Companies, like that if. We look at them you know one of the reasons we value companies so much is how, low their headcount, is you, know the fewer employees the better so how do we think about valuation. If they want to embed not, just money but our values so, this is an important, question so. There's no one specific local, policy you want to get up on your soapbox and advocate for more than there's, no silver bullet there's, no like let's get basic income and then everything, will be okay or let's, put employer sanctions in place and then everything, will be okay right if there were a simple answer we already, would have done it and, I think what we need to do is have a larger more expansive, conversation. That, talks about the. Big question, of how do we create security, you. Know in you know in a world where. Work is more insecure, and maybe we decouple, in many different possible, ways depending on our political, consensus.
How. That security may not longer relate to the job right. And split those things apart so one, of the things I think a lot about is how is the job like marriage. Right. How is work like marriage. Right very few people these days are getting married right, and, yet we're still trying to rebuild our social system or our social norms addressing, this problem what, happens to children you, know coming out of they're, born out of marriages, right this is the norm now. That's. Happening where, you have to acknowledge that I mean we don't even want those kids to grow up well we want this to be the world that we that, people are treated well and similarly, for work the, norm a few very, sort, of in. Privileged. People are allowed to have secure. Jobs like I have, a lot of security, of a tenured professor at a school right so I am part of this old world yet, 70% of professors, or adjuncts, you. Know they make two to three thousand dollars of course their, lives are emitting. And it's, important that people like me say, that's not okay or how. Do we take, this kind of flexibility, and create security for them and similarly for those who are in positions, where, they have security their lives that. To speak for these other people that don't have as much security and I think that's just being. Humane there's a good question though thank you so much. My. Question is a little bit off-topic, but you. Mentioned that like post word like the traditionary into trees the, workers were half like unions, but. For. Us, like software engineers I don't, think we have union or any kind of these things do. You think because of like the nature of job it's not necessary, or it's just a problem that we just ignored do, you wanna have a union, software. Engineers yeah I I. Don't, know that's. Why, I'm asking yeah. I mean I think it depends you need a union if you feel like you I mean for me generally it's like you need a union if you feel like you don't have agency, in how, you control your own work process, and, your own life and, you feel like you're being mistreated. I suspect. You feel like you're worked a lot at Google but you're not mistreated, exactly. You. Know I think that's very different than if you're in a dead-end job where, you. The, boss kind of dictates to you and you feel like you have no control historically. That's only so, I would worry less about so I don't worry as much with software engineers unless I know them and. They're friends of mine they're worried about them on a personal level but, as a class of workers. I'm. Not as worried about them as I am about janitors. Or GrubHub, delivery, people or. Retail. Workers you know in the coming years the gentleman early was estimate automation, like I kind, of don't believe in the world of generally I in West world and stuff like that but I do think retail workers will all lose their jobs in the next 15 years this.
Is Where most people work and they're gonna lose their employment, now, software engineers you guys have a lot to worry about too right I mean there's a lot of contract, work you know Google you're kind of like at you know the Cornell or the, Harvard or whatever. Or. Dartmouth. Sort. Of you. Know software say you know is worried but you know a lot of people on software engineering, very. Tenuous precarious. Jobs as, software. Engineers and there's a lot of things coming down the pipeline that seem like it could automate software, engineering as well but. You know I think the trick is that software engineering as you, guys literally, all let, every single one of you knows better than I do is, not just coding but being creative, right thinking, analytically, about algorithms, and I don't think a computer can do that as well as a human being so well, I'm not mostly worried about myself is, yeah as you mentioned there's like a lot like contract. Coders. Or like freelancers, hmm which. In. General not technique. Protected. By any kind of like unions. Or like laws. Anything. So when. People are highly skilled and in demand, they don't need unions as much right so, I, think, that you know programmers. As long as they are part, of they deliver, lots of value there are high skill they're not totally interchangeable despite. What I read in Korra I don't think that programmers are interchangeable, and. I think that you, know there's a lot of opportunity, for people to work, remotely and be, anywhere one of the exciting things about this economy is is. That, you. Know in the book I write, how. What's different about today is not a I AI. Narrow, AI is just another way in which tools become more productive what's. Different is we may no longer need the corporation, to access those tools that, you can sell globally, you can work globally you can consume globally, and that. The corporation. Might no longer be necessary in. Capitalism. Is a, shocking. Transformation. So, I think that that's what you guys should be, thinking about do you know how do we work in flexible teams assembling. Production. Together and, so do. You need a union I think that's only for you to decide but, I think it unions are really necessary when, people don't have power unless they work together thank. You. You.