Some interesting speculation about the new age of automation…

Required reading is this Salon article [ Welcome to the machine? ]on Automation and the socio-economic consequences of millions of jobs either been taken by robots or outsourced to India or China.

A superb book which analyses this problem as well as the recent stock market bubble, the coming bonds and property crashes as well is “Money for Nothing” by Roger Bootle. The following is from the publishers site:

The world is at a critical juncture, poised between a surge in wealth and descent into outright slump. Now Roger Bootle embraces controversy again with a fascinating and frightening book which analyses the prospect of both deflation and depression after the great illusion of the bubble – ‘money for nothing’.

Yet Bootle argues that if we can avoid the twin perils of protectionism and a deflationary slump, there is a positive prospect for a global leap in real wealth in the future through an acceleration in the new, intangible economy – money for nothing. The old economic obsession with tangible things such as land or machines has been replaced by a new economy of ‘non things’ such as intellect and ideas.

The world is on the brink of another leap forward in productive capacity and wealth which is the equivalent of the transformation which took place in our lives with the industrial revolution and the discovery of North America rolled into one – and collapsed into a couple of decades. The results may be a change in our circumstances which will make our lives today every bit as incongruous to the next generation as those of two hundred years ago are to us.

In The Death of Inflation Roger Bootle rocked the economic establishment with his predictions and was proved right. Now he embraces controversy again with this fascinating book.

Roger Bootle is one of the City of London’s best-known economists. Formerly Group Chief Economist at HSBC, he is now Managing Director of Capital Economics, an independent economic consultancy, and Economic Advisor to Deloitte & Touche. He is a regular columnist on the Sunday Telegraph and a well-known broadcaster on radio and television. His previous book, The Death of Inflation, was also published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing and became an international bestseller.

Another book I spotted which looks interesting is “So Shall We Reap” by Colin Tudge. This is from the Penguin site:

At the start of the twenty-first century, food in the West is cheaper, more convenient and more plentiful than ever – but at what cost? Who is really in control of what we eat? What effect will the way we currently produce food have on our future?

So Shall We Reap exposes the real price we have paid for the food on our table: the relentless drive for maximum production at minimum cost that has led to the erosion of rural communities worldwide; mounting concern over Foot and Mouth disease, BSE, pesticides and GM foods – and rates of obesity soaring, while other nations starve as they are forced to export goods in a cut-throat global marketplace.

But does it really have to be this way? This powerful, life-changing book shows that we can make a difference. By following the principles of enlightened agriculture – an approach grounded in sound biology, modern nutritional theory and fundamental human values – it is possible not only to reverse the damage to our health and environment, but to feed the whole world to the highest possible standards for tens of thousands of years to come.

Colin Tudge looks at the past, present and future of food production, and concludes that today’s globalized, corporatized approach has misappropriated science, regarded farming purely as a business like any other and lost touch with what it was intended for: feeding the people. We must get back to seeing ourselves as a species and the world as our habitat, reawaken traditional, regional cuisines and re-root processes in the biological and physical realities of the land. Only then can we take back control of our food from industrialists and financiers – and ultimately ensure the survival of humanity

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