Shorter Work Weeks – A forgotten lever for the Automation Age

It was close to the time of the industrial revolution, when a trade union in England lobbied for 888, 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for sleep. It’s important to note here, that the industrial revolution made quite a few artisans unemployed, but with the wealth from the automation, made this policy change possible.

Hey Elon Musk, Artificial Intelligence will not be bad like you say.

It’s everywhere in the media at the moment [2017-02-19]. Elon Musk crystal balling doom and gloom about automated intelligence, when he’s in a country made rich by automation.

The thing is, the less we do robotic mundane things, the richer economies get, and the more human we become. Please, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsACeAkvFLY&t=616s, it’s very well articulated.

Now, I have covered all this before in my previous blog article [Robots The Working Class], and there will be pockets of mass unemployment, where Government policy has propped up flailing businesses, but overall, this transition will be quite smooth and again hugely beneficial.

But I have continued thinking about this, and made an important realisation: We need to continue to reduce our work week hours, to keep most people in some sort of traditional employment.

Back in the industrial revolution, this realisation took a while, and required a workers revolt (more about the hours, than sharing the jobs). The sooner Government masters this dusty old lever of working hours, the better.

Rather than campaigning for unemployment benefits, where there’s the damaging problem of those bludging off others, I believe Government should continue to reduce the maximum hours in the work week, and keep more people employed.

This would start in the primary and secondary industries which are being disrupted the most by automation. And would begin as a reduction of another half an hour every 5 years, and increase this pace as needed.

A lot more research needs to be done here, but this will be required as we leave the information age, into the automated age.

(This was written without much review, this article will need more consideration, editing, and I’m hoping to research this whole domain of the work week more and more. BTW, workers might get paid more as their work week reduces, so their pay is the same.)

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