Monday, September 11, 2017

Personal Economic Interaction Can Be Regained

Are we purposefully eliminating ourselves from direct interaction with others, both economically and socially? At MIT Technology Review, David Byrne writes:
We are beset by - and immersed in - apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other. 
What if tech development has an "unspoken overarching agenda", as Byrne suggested, to reduce direct forms of personal communication? In other words, what if the ongoing reduction of human activity (in the marketplace and otherwise) turns out to be a feature, instead of a bug?

While some reduction of interpersonal activity has been intentional, it helps to remember how our present economic alignments inadvertently encourage social isolation. Society remains in a position where it's still necessarily to treat compensated personal interaction as an institutional cost, rather than a personal source of wealth potential. Meanwhile, the same technology gains which previously led to both increased wages and output, now mean less human input in relation to output, in a services dominated economy.

Nevertheless, an increased degree of involvement on our part is key, if we are to maintain a dynamic presence in our own economic settings. Fortunately, one means to do so, is by generating new interpersonal economic value. Indeed, we can do so not just through mutually allocated time for daily routines, but also the less routine experiences we seek via the assistance of others. Fortunately, time value as a commodity, could make our purposeful time with others, a direct component of both wealth and economic freedom.

For our time value to gain personal and social economic relevance, we transform it from an institutional cost into a shared resource. In order to do so, we purchase the time value we hope to gain from others, through the personally invested time of our own. While this time arbitrage process becomes recorded and categorized, it also gains monetary backing. Those who take part in the process, present mutually held time preferences as a commodity value constant, so as to grow the knowledge use network.

The challenge of making one's time valuable for others, would lead to a level of competition in services generation which otherwise isn't possible, whenever time based services have to rely on external resource capacity for skills compensation. And presently, firms which might otherwise choose to preserve human interaction to the greatest degree possible, remain threatened by directly competing firms which choose to reduce the need for human interaction. By making time value capable of purchase via the time of others, more individuals would gradually gain the option of preserving personal interaction at higher levels, in both the workplace and elsewhere.

Much of this comes down to the conscious decisions we can individually and collectively make, about the value of our economic time. There are two obvious essential areas which define interpersonal time based product:  Practical product, and experiential product. When time value cannot be bargained for directly (via the time people have at their disposal), certain forms of practical product deemed particularly important, will slowly but surely undermine the ability of a given population, to engage in experiential product which includes direct human interaction. Which is vitally important, because high levels of experiential product which include human interaction, are one of the most important markers of any civilized society.

Earlier this year, Alice Rivlin at Brookings, in "Seeking a policy response to the robot takeover", concluded her article with these thoughts:
If the enthusiasts of smart machines are right, the truck drivers are just a small fraction of the workers soon to be displaced by a new wave of technological advance. Americans will be forced to face up to the daunting challenge of what we want our society to be when we no longer have to do hard boring jobs like driving a truck. We have to figure out new ways of developing and adequately rewarding the skills that only humans have, like emphathizing, nurturing, and fostering athletic skills and artistic creativity. That is the particular challenge posed by smart machines. There are no easy answers to this challenge, but focusing on the soon-to-be-displaced truck drivers is a good place to start.

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