February 17, 2019

Automation and the Four-Day Work Week

“If the robots are indeed taking our jobs, shouldn’t we all probably be working less? A movement is picking up momentum in the United Kingdom based on that very reasonable logic. On Thursday, a proposal backed by eminent British progressives like John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor (the party’s chief economic spokesperson), is making the call to transition to a four-day workweek by 2025. As the proposal’s title makes clear, it’s both “a radical and pragmatic proposal.”

The report was prepared by Autonomy, a “think tank rethinking work,” and 4-Day Week, a campaign aimed at securing exactly that. While there are a number of good reasons to reduce the working week—mental health benefits, improved quality of life, even, in some cases, improved productivity—outlined in the proposal, automation is a particularly compelling one.

“We should accept automation as something that does increase productivity and recognize that that’s a good thing in an economy,” Aidan Harper, the report’s editor, founder of 4-Day Week, and a researcher at the New Economics Foundation, told me in an interview. “It’s just that the proceeds of automation should be shared evenly—in the form of a working time reduction. Machines should liberate us from work, not subject us to this ever-increasing inequality.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Have world leaders really got the will to bring peace to Yemen? We hear much about Yemen’s crisis, but far less about the hypocrisy of states fuelling the very conflict they condemn."

"No poll so far in our database has tested Trump against the relatively unknown Weld... Indeed, Weld seems like one of the weakest candidates that anti-Trump Republicans could put up in a national campaign. "

"An initiative by the mayor of Tiberias for the municipality to help provide public transportation on the Sabbath has caused the issue of the social status quo to the forefront of public discussion."

"Like “30 Rock,” “Kimmy Schmidt” obviously slanted leftward, but most always exhibited a similar eagerness to skewer politics more generally than just the GOP."

"Yes, we’re all overwhelmed with email. One recent survey suggested that the average American’s inbox has 199 unread messages. But volume isn’t an excuse for not replying."

"... platforms now have a stranglehold over publishers who, individually and even as a group, have little-to-no bargaining power when it comes to algorithmic changes, ad rates, and much else."

"[There's] a subgenre known as National Socialist black metal, which espouses neo-Nazi views and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as aiming to recruit youth to white-supremacist causes."

"“The Ideas That Made America” by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is an anomaly in the genre. Its brevity is a point of pride, yet it aspires to do a little of everything."

"My wish is to die in my own bed, cared for by people I love—clean, comfortable and relatively free from pain. I hope to have time to say my goodbyes and give my final blessings."

"A diet for fast weight loss is a pipe dream. Many of us want to lose weight without making permanent changes, because we view thinness instead of health as a success."

"Opportunity casts a long shadow over all subsequent Mars rovers, setting a gold standard of JPL engineering. Customized versions of its mobility software are used on the rovers Curiosity and upcoming Mars 2020."

"Biblical scholarship has deepened our understanding of the Torah and at the same time challenges us to consider the implications of our declaring the Torah to be emet. What is emet and what does it mean to say that the Torah is emet?"