Book Review: Jobs, Robots and Us – Why the future of work in New Zealand is in our hands, by Kinley Salmon

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_jobs_robots_and_us.jpgWinter is a good time to take stock of our own lives, issues in society and the purpose of life, work and technology. It is a time of reflection to enable us to look ahead. Kinley Salmon provides an excellent resource to help with our musings. Here is a book that includes social history, science, statistics, expert opinion and personal experiences. What part does technology play in the future of our nation and are we ready to embrace change? This book gives a balanced and very well-organised response. The chapter topics are clearly outlined in the introduction and so enable the reader to gain an overview before further reading. I found this helpful as the summary of content allowed me to select the areas of my own interest to read first. Are we prepared for changes and how best can we enable these?

Kinley Salmon grew up in Nelson and now works as an economist in Washington DC. His qualifications in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard, combined with his New Zealand upbringing, give him a unique perspective on the issue of work and technology.

In this book, he addresses ideas such as the speed of adoption and diffusion of technology, the lack of know-how to enable change and how to sustain such change. This book is made accessible by the use of examples from New Zealand. The Novopay debacle is given as an example of innovation without good preparation. Likewise, a taxi driver using Tom-tom rather than Google Maps or Waze, which give real time traffic information, shows an unwillingness to adapt new technologies.

I was interested in his discussion of the impact of new immigrants and recent returnees as bringing new ideas back to our shores. He gives evidence that they do make a difference in our ability to take up new technologies.

In the concluding chapter, Salmon states that the future of work in New Zealand is not yet written, but sits with individuals, businesses, iwi, communities and government to be shaped. As a teacher, I found this work challenging but hopeful. My students will play an important part in deciding what work will look like but the environment that enables such changes, lies with my generation.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Jobs, Robots and Us: Why the future of work in New Zealand is in our hands
by Kinley Salmon
Published by BWB
ISBN 9781988545882

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