The American Experiment Continues
David Pearce Snyder
Life Styles Editor
Although it has been more than 50 years since the world’s first electronic computer was switched on, it has only been in recent months that most people have begun to fully comprehend the power of information technology to alter the details of every aspect of daily life and work. It is now clear that, like the Agricultural, Mercantile and Industrial Revolutions before it, the "Info-mation Revolution" will transform the nature of human enterprise and reshape the future of civilization. In the U.S., this process is already well underway.
Info-mation will steadily reduce the direct labor required by all production operations and information services; this increased output per worker is already generating higher wages and stable prices and, over time, it will reduce the numbers of workers required by individual plant and office operations.
The frictionless markets of the Internet will hugely increase the efficiencies of business-to-business and business-to-government transactions, and reduce transportation, distribution and logistics costs by one-third.
The demand for office space will be further reduced by the "unbundling" of most large employers into "distributed" enterprises, up to two-thirds of whose workers will be part-time, intermittent, flex-place, shift workers, consultants, contractors or sub-contractors by 2010. Twenty-five to thirty percent of all gainful employment will take place in the home.
The smaller workforces characteristic of info-mated operations and distributed enterprise will require smaller labor pools than large industrial operations, which will permit a growing number of employers to migrate out of expensive cities and suburbs into lower-cost exurban and rural areas. This dispersion of production and population will gradually slow the further growth of existing metropolitan areas.
Major changes in center city zoning and building codes will permit the mass recycling of major urban structures, converting office buildings into residences, factories into community centers, and shopping malls into health clinics, etc., fostering the economic revitalization of our old industrial cities.
In this whirlwind exploration of the next 10 years, futurist David Pearce Snyder will describe how the simultaneous integration of the global economy and the dis-aggregation of industrial enterprise, both facilitated by frictionless capitalism on the Internet, will lead to a re-invention of the American workplace and the redistribution of population on the land.
© 2000 David Pearce Snyder
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