Bureau Europa | Maastricht | 2015
”We are searching for an inclusive and sustainable world. A world where social status has shifted from ‘I have’ to ‘I am’. Where exposing material wealth doesn’t imply social status, thus decreasing the need for consumption. A world of self-driving cars as well as hand-knitted sweaters. Where work happens in sterile, robotic factories, and messy, shared attic studios.
A world of high-tech and low-tech, where everyone gets a basic income, and where hand, head, and heart are equally appreciated. A world without the high and low educated, and without a diploma democracy.”
Hand-knitted sweaters and self-driving cars
If we understand growth by observing our ambivalence towards ‘work’, whereby ‘work’ is more efficient, as well as meaningful and fulfilling, we are currently looking at two developments.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of the Intel Corporation, described a phenomenon that became known ‘Moore’s Law’. He claimed that the power of computer processors doubles approximately every two years. This exponential growth forecast is still true. Computers are currently powerful enough to perform self-learning algorithms and the management of advanced robotics. Computers can take on increasingly complex tasks. The self-driving car will be commonplace in about 15 years. Middle-class jobs are rapidly being automated. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Structural technological unemployment is a real scenario. Automating manpower was called the First Machine Age. The automation of thinking power is called the Second Machine Age.
At the same time, global creative class is arising. This class is urban oriented. The dominant ideologies – sustainability, authorship, authenticity, and artistry – translate into work practices that prioritise concepts such as DIY, sustainability, the local, bottom-up, open-source, peer-to-peer and creative commons. Work is important for the relationship one has with oneself and with the social and natural environment. The perceived need for inclusiveness, diversity, and sustainability overlaps with the digital possibilities of the Second Machine Age. We call this new global culture the New Romantic Field. This is a time of self-driving cars and hand-knitted sweaters. It interweaves the ideas of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. ‘I have’ has lost momentum in comparison to ‘I am’, and the questions ‘how we work’ and ‘why we work’ have become important.