High Tech has been very good to me, and I’m not looking to bite the hand that’s fed me and my family. However, I think the excessive press-glorified “Go West Young Man” mindset celebrating our high tech successes masks a bigger issue: as “software eats the world”, it harms good job creation. I can still remember my chagrin at on one of my first projects at the Irving Trust bank 30 years ago when it became clear that my efforts would reduce the number of jobs in the bank.
In one recent article, Sam Altman, the brilliant young president of Y Combinator, the leading tech incubator, wrote an article on The Economy in which he pointed out that low GDP growth, high government debt, high government spending, low interest rates and low personal savings rates point to some serious problems with the economy. Sam says he thinks that innovation and new technology will save the day, but he gives no indication whatsoever how that might come about.
In “The Real Reason That Young People Can’t Find Jobs”, Derek Thompson of The Atlantic says that the slow recovery has not provided ample job opportunities and he is more concerned that is has become more common for underemployed college graduates to find themselves in low-wage jobs. Could it be that as corporate-efficient software eats the world, it destroys high paying jobs in its wake?
In “Free Markets Killed Capitalism”, Barry Lyndon describes the dramatic return of monopoly to the American landscape. He cites two tech-enabled retailers, Wal-Mart and Amazon, as examples of companies that have established monopolies in the retailing field with the downsides that creates for majority of the American population.
With so much of my life invested, I have to admit that I’m still a little High on High Tech, but I do think we need to look harder at how we can use it to create better paying jobs.