Explore a near-future world where a whopping fifty percent of the world’s population is out of work because of radical and aggressive automation in virtually every sector of every industry.
Futurist dhtreichler helps readers imagine an arresting trend in which everyone from blue collar workers (cab drivers, fast food employees) to white collar staff members (accountants, stock brokers) are pushed onto the universally low Federal Living Wage to try and eke out a miserable existence.
Even human policemen are in the vast minority as riots rule the urban streets and frustrated unemployed residents mindlessly set fire to anything handy to express their displeasure.
Primary protagonist Shauna is felled by a reduction in force at Morgan Stanley, where she had worked two years as an auditor. Automated software claimed her cubicle at the trilliion-dollar-a-year firm, which can’t seem to take in enough revenue to suit its heartless CEO.
So Shauna, with the help of an unlikely R&D team that includes, among others, her mom and dad, begins the tedious business of starting her own Internet store, as a hedge against looming long-term unemployment. It’s no cakewalk, as she soon finds out.
Recent MBAs will likely really resonate with the amount of ultra detailed process provided by a clearly well-informed author on the intricacies of market awareness, product research and feasibility studies — all requisite for a successful business launch on any scale.
But Shauna gamely trudges forward while off to the sides of each scene in this absorbing narrative we catch multiple glimpses of how society might change in such a world without work. Fantastically innovative personal electronics pervade a landscape teeming with Googlecars on every roadway and Amazon food kiosks serving every home.
Nightclubs and even one-bedroom apartments boast wall-size “portals” that display astonishingly realistic rainforests and stunning ocean depths in which whales swim right up to your nose.
But the most innovative app on display in the novel is the brainchild of Shauna’s perpetual grad student-boyfriend Nic, who is trying to track down backers for his brainchild — a gadget that utilizes your social media data to accurately anticipate your every want and need — even before you consciously realize it.
This is not light-hearted fare, to be devoured in a summertime hammock. It’s a serious look at the far-reaching implications of too much technology, implemented at the expense of humanity’s overarching need to feed and clothe our families through an honest day’s expenditure of effort.
And, it’s the story of one woman’s determined effort to turn possibly paralyzing unemployment into a surprisingly successful business venture. Based on what concept? You’ll just have to see for yourself.
Again, extra points will be given to readers who can picture themselves in the role of an imaginative entrepreneur with the trenches work ethic needed to bring a good idea to multimillion dollar fruition.
Five stars to ambitious author dhtreichler for bringing us this literary look at next-gen labor issues.