Letters to the Editor

Hugh Mensch: No stopping technology

Ned Barnett’s July 31 column “Candidates silent on digital disruption” described the problem perfectly: Automation has cost far more jobs than trade agreements, offshore manufacturing or immigration. He pointed out that neither party has a solution. That’s because there is no solution for stopping technology.

The trend of technology displacing people will continue. A quarter of all American jobs filled by men have to do with driving – cabs, trucks, buses, delivery vehicles.

What happens to jobs when drones and driverless cars become common? Advanced education won’t solve the problem, either, because technology increases efficiency so dramatically that we will eventually need fewer technologists.

In 1964 AT&T was the nation’s most valuable company, worth $267 billion in today’s dollars. It employed 750,000 workers. Today Alphabet (parent of Google) is worth $370 billion but employs only 55,000 people.

It all sounds very discouraging, but then Barnett tells of the young people ignoring the political conventions while gathering in downtown Raleigh to play a communal game of Pokemon Go. This younger generation doesn’t seem to share our angst. They understand technology and will change the social contract to fit their changing world.

Younger generations have always figured things out. We just need to avoid going off the rails before they get the chance.

Hugh Mensch

Southern Pines