In 1964, and open letter was drafted and sent to President Johnson, warning him of the coming Triple Revolution.
The letter was composed and signed by 35 members of the “Ad Hoc Committee on the Triple Revolution,” which include luminaries like Nobel Chemist, Linus Pauling; civil rights activist, Tom Hayden; and Swedish Nobel Economist, Gunnar Myrdal.
The letter focused on three revolutions taking place at the time:
- Cybernation Revolution – increasing automation
- Weaponry Revolution – mutually assured destruction
- Human Rights Revolution – growing civil unrest
While the letter talked about all three issues, it focused primarily on the Cybernation Revolution where they predicted that machines would cause massive new unemployment:
“A new era of production has begun. Its principles of organization are as different from those of the industrial era as those of the industrial era were different from the agricultural. The cybernation revolution has been brought about by the combination of the computer and the automated self-regulating machine. This results in a system of almost unlimited productive capacity which requires progressively less human labor. Cybernation is already reorganizing the economic and social system to meet its own needs.”
Of particular interest to me was the work of one of the signers, Robert Theobald, a futurist who had written extensively on the economics of abundance and his advocacy of a Basic Income Guarantee. These are the same topics being discussed by those today who fear massive technological unemployment in the years ahead.
Even though this 1964 warning of a Triple Revolution registered little more than a tiny blip on the radar screen of history, computers have dramatically changed the jobs landscape as well as the skills required to perform those jobs.
Today we are seeing many voice similar concerns about technological unemployment, where computers, robots, and machines are automating our jobs out of existence. In fact, some have gone so far as to call this the “robot jobs Armageddon.”
So is this time truly different? Here are six overarching shifts in the world that are causing many to say, “Yes, this time may really be different!”