- File Size: 720 KB
- Print Length: 242 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (February 11, 2014)
- Publication Date: February 11, 2014
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00IHGVPHQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,889 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans Kindle Edition
|Length: 242 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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About the Author
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"[An] arresting new book... Head offers a powerful indictment of contemporary Anglo-American Capitalism... He brilliantly translates ideas remote from the experience of most people into everyday language... [and] deconstructs and demystifies the pseudoscientific, abstract, jargonized language of management studies in order to reveal the dispiriting realities it obscures."
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
A dark, revealing view of computerized control and monitoring of the workplace A sobering, important book.”
Richard Sennett, author of Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation
The regimented society has arrived, and Simon Head is its most probing critic. He not only shows the grip of computerized bureaucracy on people’s lives, he also analyzes the economic interests and political processes which drive regimentation. This wide-ranging book is clearly and at times eloquently written. A must-read.”
Robert Skidelsky, author of Keynes: The Return of the Master
With insight and clarity, Simon Head describes the insidious effects of combining scientific management with IT systems and its propensity to create a world of top-down control, where workers are stripped of skills and satisfaction in their work. His fascinating account ranges from Walmart and Amazon’s tightly controlled supply chains to Goldman Sachs’s manipulation of sub-prime mortgages. In doing so he shows how the drive to automate human abilities and increase profits has depressed wages and undermined economies.”
Paul Duguid, co-author of The Social Life of Information
The world abounds in enthusiastic technologists offering their vision of the ideal, democratic future to which technology will deliver us, if only we are willing to follow. Simon Head’s penetrating Mindless, with its well-chosen and impressively unpredictable case studies of Computer Business Systems in the workplace, the military, and academia, gives us reasonsand the toolsto question such advice. Importantly, Head shows us that the future is not inevitable. We have choices, and for the good of society we need to make them.”
Avner Offer, Chichele Professor (emeritus) of Economic History, University of Oxford, and Fellow of All Souls College
Simon Head’s penetrating and eloquent book shows how mass surveillance is already manipulating employees in business. Are citizens next? It provides clues about where government surveillance is headingor maybe we are already there.”
</div> --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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I've always been a die-hard capitalist but this book gives the best justification yet for some form of wealth redistribution in our society for the sake of capitalism itself. The author points out that Henry Ford was perceptive enough to raise wages in Ford's factories in order for the workers to afford automobiles. Without this type of income/wage reform at a national level, capitalism will not have the markets to sustain itself. It is in the best interest of capitalistic societies to adopt some wealth reallocation tenets of socialism.
The author also has some very interesting comparisons of the command economies of the Soviet and Chinese to the command and control hierarchies of British academia.
A very original and thought provoking book. Highly recommended!
CBSs permit management at all levels to track in real time the performance, indeed every single action, of every employee in their organizations. Head describes this as "digital Taylorism". Frederick Taylor was a management theorist/researcher famous for his "time and motion studies" during the 1880s and 90s that resulted in the now-pervasive science of "business process" and its strict control (micromanagement) of production workers' every action. This also has to do with the standardization throughout industry of the moving assembly line pioneered by Henry Ford in the early 20th century. Before the assembly line, manufactured products were made by skilled craftsmen who used their judgment to decide how best to accomplish their work. After their work was Taylorized by the automated systems of the assembly line, they became "de-skilled" as their work actions became scripted by engineering professionals who decided how the work was best accomplished. In other words, there was only "one right way" to perform any work action, and the former craftsmen were given no choice obey in the prescribed, quantified manner.
Head makes the case that there is a profound difference between then and now. Digital data collection systems and transcontinental computer networks permit today's managers to vastly expand the range of business processes that can be micromanaged in real time. More and more processes (employee actions) can be quantified and subjected to objective scoring algorithmically, without benefit of human subjectivity. No less important, today it is not only blue collar labor that is subject to Taylorism. Today an ever-expanding range of white collar professions and their workers can be monitored and scored by automated systems. And these automated systems, CBSs, are programmed and operated by engineering "scientific managers" that often have little or nothing to do with the business processes being Taylorized. The workers who must labor under the yoke of these inhuman systems (computers plus soulless corporate executives/managers) have absolutely no relief and no recourse but to continue suffering this tyranny.
Head includes a chapter showing how these systems in the hands of Chinese communists with spur a "business arms race" with Western corporations that are forced to compete with them in the global marketplace.
On a lighter note, these ideas are somewhat similar to those presented in the hilarious Yes Men video, featuring the "Executive Business Suit" which contains a penis-like appendage that unfolds when the suit is opened. Its head presents the exec with a television screen giving him a real-time presence in faraway manufacturing sweatshops, affording him the ability to discipline underperforming employees nearly effortlessly (which makes it all so much more fun!)
Anyway, back to Mindless. I give the book four stars overall because it's got alot of good info on topics not many other writers are taking up. However, the book isn't what I was expecting from its subtitle. That should read "The digital de-skilling of America's micromanaged workforce". It isn't about our people getting dumber. So I was expecting something more like The Shallows, or Andrew Keen, or that article called "Is Google Making Us Stoopid". Just be aware this book is about what is happening to our workforce by our globalized corporate overlords.