Job Collapse on the Road to New Athens


Posted: 11 Oct 2017

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: June 29, 2017


The case that America will not be able to replace jobs lost to technological advance is gaining adherents. Indeed, it is becoming one of the central issues of our times. This noted author assesses the issues but then asks whether we can end our reliance on growth and high pay as sources of happiness. Can community involvement be an answer to a fuller life?

A significant number of analysts have shown that automation, especially the kind driven by artificial intelligence, is destroying many jobs and is expected to eliminate many more in the near future, including a large number of middle-class jobs. This development in turn raises social and political tensions and moral questions. A common response is the observation that such creative destruction always follows technical advances but that these very advances lead to the formation of new and better jobs — jobs that entail less menial work and that pay better. However, there is some evidence that this well may not be the case this time. The first part of this paper examines these assessments.

Several treatments have been offered to deal with the net job loss, should it occur — some refer to it as job collapse or even job Armageddon. These remedies include education reforms as well as training and retraining programs, which are reviewed and assessed in the second part. Providing income security to all members of society, whether or not they work, to mitigate the social and political effects of job losses is reviewed and assessed in part three. Various other suggestions made to cope with this challenge posed by automation are discussed in part four. The paper finds that none of the suggested treatments will suffice and hence calls for a fundamental change in culture and the economy, outlined in part five.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Job Collapse on the Road to New Athens (June 29, 2017). Challenge. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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