A World Without Work Summary By Daniel Susskind

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A World Without Work, by author Daniel Susskind, is a timely and thought-provoking exploration into the world of automation and artificial intelligence.

For those curious about the impact of these looming changes on our lives – both in terms of opportunity and consequence for labor, this book is a must read.

Susskind takes us through the history of technological progress, explains how today’s capabilities allow for unprecedented productivity, and explores why many jobs will become irrelevant as AI advances.

Despite these changes however, Susskind shows us that with proper controls in place we can ensure that everyone will benefit from this new world.

A truly eye-opening read!

A World Without Work

Book Name: A World Without Work (Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond)

Author(s): Daniel Susskind

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Categories: Economics

Author Bio

Daniel Susskind is the well-highly regarded coauthor of The Future of the Professions, which was named one of 2016's best books by esteemed outlets such as Financial Times, New Scientist and the Times Literary Supplement.

He is a professor at Balliol College in Oxford University, where he focuses on economics.

Having had prior experience as a policy adviser for British Strategy Unit and a senior adviser to the UK government, Daniel Susskind has an impressive background that helps him tackle topics such as those found in "A World Without Work".

Exploring the Impact of Automation on Human Societies and Our Future

Human Societies

In A World Without Work, readers will gain a better understanding of the effects that automation is having on our societies and how we can embrace it to build a brighter future.

Readers will look back at history and economics to understand the history of technological change, as well as find a new path forward for when work becomes unnecessary for people to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

The book outlines the potential benefits and challenges that could come with living in an increasingly automated world.

It covers topics such as why we don’t know what the future holds, ways to bridge divides between humans and machines, and even mentions AI existing in ancient literature.

Readers will gain an insight into the changes they should expect as automation affects their daily lives and explore ideas of how they can use these changes to create a prosperous society.

Machines Enhance Human Employability, Not Replace It

It’s true that machines are taking over many jobs, but there’s no need to be scared.

Machines are not replacing all of our jobs, but rather, they are complementing some of them.

This means that, while some workers may suffer as a result of these changes in the labor market, many more will benefit!

For example, technology such as algorithms has allowed lawyers to work smarter.

These algorithms help by doing the processing of legal documents and this frees up lawyers’ time so they can use it on more creative endeavors and to meet with clients face to face – both tasks that robots can’t do.

This increased production then leads to the second benefit of automation: it helps the economy grow larger and stronger.

We can look at ATM machines for proof of this; when ATMs were first created people were concerned that all bank tellers would be replaced.

But in reality, their numbers rose by 20% and this also meant an increase in demand for other banking services.

The Key Message in this Section Is: All Jobs Are At Risk from Technological Change

Technological Change

The key message in this section of A World Without Work is that all jobs are at risk from technological change, not just those in manual labor or low-skill roles.

As technology advances, it increases the demand for highly skilled workers whose job it is to operate the latest machines.

At the same time, it has caused a decrease in wages for these workers, since more and more people are competing for the same positions.

Yet recently, economists have observed increasing wages among the highly educated– demonstrating that technology isn’t only benefiting one sector over another.

In fact, the MIT trio of economists theorized that high-skilled work might actually suffer more than low-skilled work due to automation; while machines may be able to handle routine tasks easily, they struggle with non-routine skills that require creativity, judgment and interpersonal skills.

Therefore these middle class positions– such as secretaries and salespeople– risk becoming obsolete.

So when we talk about which jobs are vulnerable to automation, remember: all jobs are at risk from technological change.

Homer Predicted AI and We Are Finally Seeing It Come to Fruition

AI research has come a long way since the days where engineers attempted to replicate human thinking.

It was soon realised that by imitating human thought, computers could only do so much.

This lead to computer scientists taking on a more pragmatic approach and trying to solve problems in whatever way possible – even if it didn’t make sense to humans.

By collecting huge datasets and scanning them in search of patterns, AI research took off exponentially and provided a breakthrough that could not have been achieved by relying solely on human thought.

This new method of problem-solving allowed for AI programs to autonomously reach solutions faster than ever before,with benefits ranging from Deep Blue’s incredible victory over chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, all the way up to modern image identification programs that outperform humans in competitions.

How Will Automation Play Out Differently Around the World?

No matter what industry we are talking about, technological progress is happening.

That’s because machines are getting better and better at completing tasks that used to be done by humans.

But the rate at which these changes occur will vary from one country to the next.

For example, agriculture has been heavily impacted by automation; today’s farmers rely on everything from driverless tractors to facial-recognition systems for their livestock.

In Japan, 90 percent of crop-spraying is done by drones!

Even jobs that required fine motor skills, like oranges being picked off of trees, can now be automated by robots.

Law, finance, and medicine have all been affected by AI and software – they are now capable of analyzing more information than us humans could ever do.

Diagnostic systems developed in China use over 300 million medical records for evaluation!

Machines have even made advances when it comes to detecting emotions in facial expressions or operating as “social robots” in health care industries around the world – something predicted to become a $67 billion industry soon enough.

The Obstacles to Finding a Job In Automation’s Wake: How Facing Structural Change Will Affect Unemployment


As technology continues to become more and more sophisticated, it’s inevitable that certain jobs will be automated or eliminated altogether, leading to huge job losses.

This is the harsh reality of a world without work.

Mismatch of skills, geography, and other frictions can further exacerbate this problem.

For example, low-skilled workers may not have the resources to move hundreds of miles away in search of a new job since they lack the skill sets needed for these new positions.

Similarly, if most available new jobs are high-skilled positions like AI managers or software engineers, it won’t help those who lost their factory jobs due to automation.

Although economists argue that frictions are temporary and may eventually iron out over long-term growth cycles, it’s important to realize that even when technological advances only boost output–like driverless cars–it won’t necessarily lead to more human jobs as companies will simply produce more machines to do the job instead.

Automation Widens the Income Gap and Creates Soaring Inequality

It’s a common misconception that automation has made the world more equitable.

In reality, automation has widened the income gap between jobs by increasing inequality in our economic landscape.

Data shows that prior to 1980, income growth among Americans was steady; however, after 1980 there was a marked difference in income growth along socioeconomic lines.

Specifically, low earners saw little to no increase in their incomes while those at the top of the earnings ladder saw their incomes rapidly inflate.

This shift is due mainly to the fact that the majority of people do not possess traditional capital; instead, they rely on their human capital to generate wealth.

When one’s job is replaced by an automated process or technology, their human capital becomes essentially worthless and they become trapped in a cycle of poverty.

How the ‘Big State’ Can Help Redistribute Wealth in the Automated Economy

When automation starts to replace jobs in the labor market, it puts strain on a nation’s resources and has the potential to create an inequitable distribution of wealth.

To combat this challenge, the author of A World Without Work proposes that a “Big State” be formed which will work to ensure wealth is distributed among society in such a way that all citizens benefit equitably.

To do this, the Big State will collect revenue from those who are largely benefiting from automation, like software developers and tech company owners, traditional capitalists who own land or machines, as well as businesses and corporations which are profiting more due to automation.

The collected funds would then be distributed through a Conditional Basic Income program, which differs from Universal Basic Income (UBI).

CBI provides money for specific individuals who meet certain criteria instead of providing payments to everyone indiscriminately.

This ensures that those most affected by automation still receive adequate support while avoiding perceived unfairness.

Ultimately, these programs have the potential to transform a distressed labor market into a sustainable and equitable system.

Wrap Up

A World Without Work, by Daniel Susskind, is a book that is all about the future of work and its implications for our society.

It highlights the ways in which automation can render human labor obsolete and recommends state-supported policies to redistribute income throughout the wider population.

The book’s essential advice is to recognize and explore opportunities to use technology to boost productivity.

Even those in high-skilled positions like software engineers can utilize tech tools, AI, and automation to complete mundane tasks faster and more efficiently.

If we can put technology to its best use, it could help create a fairer economic system for us all.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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