The “iEverything” and the Redistributional imperative ►[robertreich.org]
It’s now possible to sell a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many, if any, workers to produce or distribute it.
At its prime in 1988, Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 145,000 employees. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.
The same year Kodak went under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13 employees serving 30 million customers.
The ratio of producers to customers continues to plummet. When Facebook purchased “WhatsApp” (the messaging app) for $19 billion last year, WhatsApp had 55 employees serving 450 million customers.
A friend, operating from his home in Tucson, recently invented a machine that can find particles of certain elements in the air.
He’s already sold hundreds of these machines over the Internet to customers all over the world. He’s manufacturing them in his garage with a 3D printer.
So far, his entire business depends on just one person — himself.
New technologies aren’t just labor-replacing. They’re also knowledge-replacing.