The first two articles we read this week presented conflicting views about the effect of computers on the job market. "New Technology, Solution or Problem?" suggested that computers would allow formerly complex, skilled, stimulating jobs to be broken down into simple component tasks. "How Computers Change Work and Pay" indicates that computers may eliminate many routine jobs but increase demand for jobs that require complex (not rule-based) communication, thought, or physical tasks.
"How Computers Change Work and Pay" had a lot of data to support its position, but I know that my experience in the working world has been more in line with "New Technology, Solution or Problem?" As an office temp I often thought that my assigned duties could have been carried out equally well by a trained chimp, if not for the fact that a trained chimp would cost more than my labor. On the other hand, my only serious full-time job was as an English-language teacher in Japan, a job that required a lot in the way of interpersonal interaction and complex thought and communication, but no computer skills at all. I sometimes typed stuff up for my classes, but this wasn't required. I could have gotten by doing everything by hand. We had two computers at my school, but they were mostly used for tracking our hours, accounting stuff, and receiving electronic files from the head office.
What do you all think? Are computers forcing us into mundane, repetitive jobs, or are they freeing us for higher-level social and cognitive work?