Category Archives: Technology

THE SOCIETY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Re-posted)

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor www.BusinessThinker.com;  Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2011-2013).
CV details: click on  http://bit.ly/2sXvygl

Unfortunately, we have entered a century in which many of the old cultures and societies that have been successful under the old technologies and cultural norms have fallen by the wayside.   We witness already  dramatic shifts in economic wealth, both within and across nation states.

There is still some debate about how the new changes in technology will affect some of the more prevalent twentieth century ideologies.   For example, will the new technologies and associated cultural changes support or retard the growth of the liberal democracies? Or, will the vision of George Orwell be realized, with a technology-induced return to a world-wide authoritarian state? Obviously, all the data are not in, and will not be in for another seventy-five years or so. The early returns, however, suggest that many of the new technologies seem to enforce democratic values and practices.   For example, one of the critical features of using information technologies and computerized systems is the rapid and transparent exchange of information across settings, cities, and nations.   This is highly compatible with democratic systems and values. However, we have also witnessed that China has been able to have an effective state control over these advanced technologies so that has been little if any democratization and is some cases it could be argued that we have seen a decrease in democratization! The Economist in a recent article has concluded that the democratization effects on China by technology could have been overestimated.

On the other hand, some of the new technologies will reinforce distinctions between individuals and classes of people, thus perhaps leading to a more hierarchical and elitist structure of society.   Moreover, the ability of the new technologies to successfully manage and facilitate diversity of tastes and markets, may lead to a fragmentation of societies such that it will be difficult to sustain larger goals and visions.   For example, it is unclear whether a television society can really sustain a long-term mission, or goal, or struggle.

Continue reading



The other elephant in the room (and every room in the whole world)

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of www.BusinessThinker.com, Founder and former CEO, JP Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation, Adjunct Professor(ret.), Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

Gather a roomful of people with vague ideas that our millions of displaced workers can return to jobs remotely resembling what they used to do—“Let’s get America moving forward again”—and technology will be an elephant in that room. I didn’t even mention globalization, which might be an even larger elephant. Domestic competition and new technology alone would drastically alter our future society even if Americans were the only residents of the planet began Earth. But globalization alone also is a sufficient force to set our old economy and workforce paradigm on its head. With Mumbai or Tokyo or Stuttgart or Singapore virtually as nearby as an industrial park here in the U.S., nothing will ever be the same again. Elephants are the world’s most powerful work animals, and we have a pair in tandem pulling us into the 21st Century. Unlike a tractor, they can’t back up. And the sum of these two elephants, technology and globalization, is greater than their parts. Globalization is the one most commonly thought to be reversible, at least in part. The only way to beat it is to join it, and be competitive.

Continue reading



Why progress always ‘puts people out of work’

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of www.BusinessThinker.com, Founder and former CEO, JP Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation, Adjunct Professor(ret.), Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.


Let’s refine our definition of “the employment problem” by understanding that the biggest, most labor-intensive companies—the kind that absorbed all those farm laborers and created the 20th-Century middle-class—were inevitably destined to become not “centers of employment,” but centers of unemployment.

Here we begin by recounting my Grand Rapids speech and go on to explain the Vector One and Vector Two phenomenon, the entire phenomenon of ever-more-efficient companies and organizations (or entire sectors, like our friends the farmers) becoming smaller and smaller in terms of employment. Meanwhile, new technologies and new products and new market forces breed “job creation” elsewhere in the economy. A company or even an entire sector must do things better and more efficiently, or die. They eventually will die anyway unless they reinvent themselves as producers of new goods and services rather than inevitably obsolete goods and services.

Continue reading