My 2009 book The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future is now available in Japanese. You can order from Amazon.co.jp here.
The book was translated by the Japanese Publisher, Asahi Shimbun Publications. According to Google Translate, the cover text says something like “Technology will steal 75% of employment” … which sounds pretty alarming.
That 75% figure actually comes from chapter 4 of the book, where I say this:
In this chapter, we are going to fast forward far into the future; we will imagine a time when at least three quarters of the jobs which exist in our current economy have been permanently automated away. In other words, the unemployment rate will be at least 75 percent—an almost unimaginably high level—and there will be no realistic hope that more jobs will be created in the future. Is it possible to have a prosperous economy and a civil society in such a scenario?
If we can devise a system that would work in such an admittedly extreme situation, then we should also be able to figure out a way to gradually transition into that new system, so that we can maintain economic stability as automation advances in the coming years and decades.
Now, I thought it was pretty clear that I was constructing a thought experiment there. In other words, imagine a really extreme, far future, situation and then lets talk about what we might do in terms of policies to adapt the economy. I wasn’t actually predicting 75% unemployment. However, a number of people seem to have taken it that way. There were also a few articles in the press citing the 75% figure. And, now, there it is on the cover of the Japanese edition. My guess is that a lot of very bad things would happen socially and politically before we would ever see 75% unemployment in the real world. But if it helps sell books…
When I wrote The Lights in the Tunnel, I thought the title — which refers to a thought experiment I utilize in the book — would be catchy and memorable. In retrospect, however, it doesn’t do such a great job of conveying what the book is really about, and, especially, doesn’t translate well into other languages. I have learned from this, and my new book (releasing May 5) is titled Rise of the Robots.
3 thoughts on ““The Lights in the Tunnel” is now available in Japanese – (テクノロジーが雇用の75%を奪う 単行本)”
It is great to know that “The Lights in the tunnel has been translated in Japanese I read it in English and promoted it to my French friends and colleagues we all wish it were translated in French.
The French author Pierre Larrouturou often uses this argument about machine automation in at least 4 books. he says that machine automation is destroying more jobs than offshoring.
From an historical point of view the first programmed machine destroying jobs were the automatic looming machines in Lyon (France) resulting in the local 1831 revolt of weavers employees (revolte des cannuts) : the army was called to tame the angry workers. These looming machines used a program stored on a paper punch roll, making the productivity 10 folds higher than the manual looms and allowing a very quick change of the material being weaved, even, and especially material having a complex weaving design. Almost a precursor of ‘’Mass Customization” these mechanical looms were known as Jacquard looms
When I started working for IBM around 1968 there were still plenty of job using perforating machines to punch standard 80 column paper cards, either for data entry of to enter programs to be later executed on huge mainframe computers. 5 years earlier,Ads in the press were claiming these jobs to be the jobs of the future but when the screen based terminal came up these jobs disapeared, It is Worth noting that didplay terminals were using 80 colums too, keeping the old paper card format. Fo a long time that limited the development of all points adressable displays other Wise calles graphic displays.