I wasn’t going to liveblog the defrag conference – I figured I’d partake more. The opening session this morning kind of changed my view of that. Andy Kessler gave the opening keynote that he entitled “Be Solyent, Eat People”
Eric Norlin, the organizer of defrag made a smart choice with Kessler – he’s brash, opinionated and pretty obnoxious. No one in the room was likely to forget the talk – the twitterstream was phenomenal – peoples hackles were well and truly raised.
Kessler’s central thesis was a taxonomy of unproductive jobs – being a Wall Street guy, his definition of unproductive pretty much included anyone who actually does anything.
He went on to suggest that anyone not involved in high level work is essentially a parasite. He called for the mass automation of jobs – the end of stevedoring, the demise of librarianship and the outsourcing of teaching.
Kessler’s talk was a typical “sermon from the pulpit”. It’s very easy for someone in his position to ignore that which he has no visibility of – that is anyone out in the real world doing real stuff. Unfortunately the problem with his theory is that it’s very hard (some would say impossible) to move blue collar workers into knowledge workers – so once we decimate the productive workforce we’re left with a society filled with disenfranchised people.
As I said the twitterstream was very aggressive, unfortunately only Stowe Boyd and myself called Kessler out in the Q&A session – I asked Kessler what place social and environmental equity had in his utopian ideal (that I’d call dystopian) and I labeled his perspective “Feudalism 2.0”.
As I said, a great choice by Eric, it certainly got everyone fired up. But I’m really fearful that messages like Kessler’s gain traction and no one advocates for those he disenfranchises – it’s a sad reflection on the world.
So I’ll not doff my cap in Kessler’s general direction – it’s what he wants but I’m kind of over feudal lords….