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When you receive the information, if you think any of it is wrong or out of date, you can ask us to change or delete it for you. James Livingston. He lives in New York. Brought to you by Curio , an Aeon partner. Edited by Sam Haselby. Work means everything to us Americans.

1. Technology is constantly changing

These beliefs are no longer plausible. Already a fourth of the adults actually employed in the US are paid wages lower than would lift them above the official poverty line — and so a fifth of American children live in poverty. The market in labour has broken down, along with most others. No one can doubt the moral significance of the movement.

But at this rate of pay, you pass the official poverty line only after working 29 hours a week. What about the job market of the future?


Well, yeah — until now, these times. The measurable trends of the past half-century, and the plausible projections for the next half-century, are just too empirically grounded to dismiss as dismal science or ideological hokum. Rise of the Robots , a new book that cites these very sources, is social science, not science fiction.

Certainly this crisis makes us ask: what comes after work? What would you do without your job as the external discipline that organises your waking life — as the social imperative that gets you up and on your way to the factory, the office, the store, the warehouse, the restaurant, wherever you work and, no matter how much you hate it, keeps you coming back? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed places, such as Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day?

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How do you make a living without a job — can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society — as most of us were — would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing? Without this income supplement, half of the adults with full-time jobs would live below the poverty line, and most working Americans would be eligible for food stamps. A study of census data in England and Wales since found technology has created more jobs than it killed.

The catch is the new jobs are often radically different from the old ones.

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  • One hundred years ago, blacksmiths were on their way out, while car mechanics were on their way in. In other cases, machines took over boring, time-consuming tasks, leaving people with time to pursue other work — or invent new jobs. Next: Which workers need to worry most about technology taking their jobs? Almost everyone is at risk, but some jobs are more likely to be automated than others. An intelligent service robot assists customers at a Chinese bank. Now, it seems clear the rise of the machines is just beginning.

    Nearly half of all jobs in the U. Many of the at-risk jobs are in the service sector, which some assumed was relatively immune from automation.

    I can't do it anymore - Automotive Technician Jobs |

    Workers who moved from manufacturing jobs to those in restaurants and retail might find themselves in trouble yet again. Jobs in accommodations and food service are most at risk of automation, a McKinsey report found, as machines get better at preparing food, washing dishes, and making drinks. Retail jobs — especially those that involve tasks, such as stocking shelves or packing items for shipment — could also be in jeopardy. Artificial intelligence is coming for white-collar jobs, too, experts say. Insurance agents, bookkeepers, and mortgage brokers all spend a significant chunk of their workday performing routine tasks that could be automated, according to the McKinsey report.

    I can't do it anymore...

    Technology is also changing the way lawyers, teachers, journalists, and other professionals work, The Guardian reported. Union membership is declining in the U. The number of unionized workers has fallen dramatically over the past 50 years. Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life — in easily manipulated photos, in short video bursts, in constant updates to Instagram Stories — and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.

    But as sociologist Arne L. Kalleberg points out , that efficiency was supposed to give us more job security, more pay, perhaps even more leisure. In short, better jobs. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. And we get a second gig. All of this optimization — as children, in college, online — culminates in the dominant millennial condition, regardless of class or race or location: burnout.

    Finishing the massive work project! People patching together a retail job with unpredictable scheduling while driving Uber and arranging child care have burnout. Startup workers with fancy catered lunches, free laundry service, and minute commutes have burnout. Academics teaching four adjunct classes and surviving on food stamps while trying to publish research in one last attempt at snagging a tenure-track job have burnout.

    Freelance graphic artists operating on their own schedule without health care or paid time off have burnout. World-famous BBQ! Even the trends millennials have popularized — like athleisure — speak to our self-optimization. We use Fresh Direct and Amazon because the time they save allows us to do more work.

    Time in therapy, after all, is time you could be working. But planning a week of healthy meals for a family of four, figuring out the grocery list, finding time to get to the grocery store, and then preparing and cleaning up after those meals, while holding down a full-time job? Millennial burnout often works differently among women, and particularly straight women with families.

    A recent study found that mothers in the workplace spend just as much time taking care of their children as stay-at-home mothers did in One might think that when women work, the domestic labor decreases, or splits between both partners. Millennial parenting is, as a recent New York Times article put it, relentless.

    Go to yoga! Use your meditation app! I feel so burned out. Commiseration or advice? The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance. Maybe my inability to get the knives sharpened is less about being lazy and more about being too good, for too long, at being a millennial. There are a few ways to look at this original problem of errand paralysis. Many of the tasks millennials find paralyzing are ones that are impossible to optimize for efficiency, either because they remain stubbornly analog the post office or because companies have optimized themselves, and their labor, so as to make the experience as arduous as possible for the user anything to do with insurance, or bills, or filing a complaint.

    Sometimes, the inefficiencies are part of the point: The harder it is to submit a request for a reimbursement, the less likely you are to do it. The same goes for returns. Finding a doctor — and not just any doctor, but one who will take your insurance, who is accepting new patients — might seem like an easy task in the age of Zocdoc, but the array of options can be paralyzing without the recommendations of friends and family, which are in short supply when you move to a brand-new town.

    Other tasks are, well, boring. The payoff from completing them is too small. The consequence is two-fold. First, like a kind of Chinese water torture, each identical thing becomes increasingly painful. In defense, we become decreasingly engaged. To be clear, none of these explanations are, to my mind, exonerating.

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    • But dumb, illogical decisions are a symptom of burnout. We engage in self-destructive behaviors or take refuge in avoidance as a way to get off the treadmill of our to-do list.

      Some people who behave this way may, indeed, just not know how to put their heads down and work. Living in poverty is akin to losing 13 IQ points. Millions of millennial Americans live in poverty; millions of others straddle the line, getting by but barely so, often working contingent jobs, with nothing left over for the sort of security blanket that could lighten that cognitive load.

      The steadier our lives, the more likely we are to make decisions that will make them even steadier. War with North Korea looms. Our primary concern with the incredibly volatile stock market is how its temperament affects our day-to-day employment. The planet is dying. Democracy is under serious threat. In his writing about burnout, the psychoanalyst Cohen describes a client who came to him with extreme burnout: He was the quintessential millennial child, optimized for perfect performance, which paid off when he got his job as a high-powered finance banker.

      One morning, he woke up, turned off his alarm, rolled over, and refused to go to work. He never went to work again. In the movie version of this story, this man moves to an island to rediscover the good life, or figures out he loves woodworking and opens a shop. The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is — not a passing ailment, but a chronic disease — and to understand its roots and its parameters. They just describe those feelings and behaviors — and the larger systems of capitalism and patriarchy that contribute to them — accurately.

      The carrot dangling in front of us is the dream that the to-do list will end, or at least become far more manageable. To do that, you need paradigm-shifting change. admin