This is a conversation Tim Lord had with Tim O'Reilly at OSCON. Tim O'Reilly wrote an article titled "The WTF Economy,"
, which started with these words: "WTF?! In San Francisco, Uber has 3x the revenue of the entire prior taxi and limousine industry." He talks about Uber and AirbnB and how, with real-time measurement of customer demand, "The algorithm is the new shift boss." And then there is this question: "What is the future when more and more work can be done by intelligent machines instead of people, or only done by people in partnership with those machines?"
My (late) father was an engineer. Politically, you could have called him a TechnoUtopian. He believed -- along with most of his engineer, ham radio, and science fiction writer and reader friends -- that as machines took over the humdrum tasks, humans would work less and create more. O'Reilly seems to have similar beliefs, even though (unlike my father) he's seen the beginnings of an economy with self-driving cars and trucks, factory machines that don't need humans to run them, and many other changes the 1950s and 1960s futurists didn't expect to see until we had flying cars and could buy tickets on Pan Am flights to the moon
. Listening to these conversations, I remember my father's dreams, but O'Reilly isn't as optimistic as a full-blown TechnoUtopian. He takes a "Something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear
" view of how work (and pay for work) will change in the near future. Please note that Tim O'Reilly has been called "The Oracle of Silicon Valley
," so he's totally worth watching -- or reading, if that's your preferred method of taking in new information.
NOTE: Today we have a "main video," plus a "bonus video" that is viewable only with Flash. But we have a transcript that covers both of them. Enjoy!