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The End of Work

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  593 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Theorizes that computers will eliminate the need for a workforce and proposes ways to avoid this mass unemployment.
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published December 28th 1994 by Tarcher
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The Real Threat of Artificial Intelligence

AI "will reshape what work means and
Deborah Alvarez
We should get paid to not work. Very provocative, but necessary. The warning bells should've gone off a long time ago because of the opposing facts that companies don't want employees, but employees want companies. And with technology being more powerful than organized labor, who will win? Companies, of course, unless there's an intervention of government to legislate equality in the face of capitalism, and the intervention needs to start now.

"The End of Work" is an insightful confirmation of my
Kjell Hansen
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
A few weeks ago, I serendipitously found this title staring out of the shelf at me in Value Village while I was looking for a Halloween costume accessory. Besides Martin Ford's "The Lights in the Tunnel" which I'd read a year or two earlier, I honestly had no idea that there were other books on the subject. The End of Work is a much more solid, well-researched and carefully argued book than Ford's. And it's from 1995. Incidentally, it helped me discovered that there was a Wikipedia page on Techn ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
The ever faster pace of automation will sooner or later collide with the steady growth of the world's population.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

From the machine-hijackers at the beginning of the industrial revolution to the trade union movements to what is currently arguably the best model of social partnership and collective bargaining in the happy countries with an eco-social market economy. It was always about workin
Stan Murai
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jeremy Rifkin's End of Work was published in 1995, yet
seems even more relevant today; its major themes have even
become part of the current political discourse. That new
technology has resulted in elimination of jobs and displaced
workers is not a new idea. but in the past new areas in the
economy had emerged to make for new employment
opportunities. The traditional sectors of the economy
(agriculture, manufacturing, and service) no longer provide
needs for full employment. New positions in the know
Bob Gustafson
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book more than twenty years ago. Then I gave it away. Then in view of recent events, I thought that it was worth another read so I read it again. I'm glad that I did. It was a little bit like "Back to the Future".

The first two-thirds of the book is a glum elaboration of the title. The last one-third is about the possibility of a silver lining on this very dark cloud of unemployment and poverty.

The pre-1980 history part of the book could have been written in 2016. Nothing there has ch
Max Nova
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: automation, economics
"The End of Work" sets up the problem of technological unemployment very well. Rifkin traces the broad technological and socioeconomic trends that have led to the rise of the service sector and now the erosion of those jobs. Interestingly (and controversially!) he presents the African American population as a demographic sector that has become a "permanent underclass" as a result of technological unemployment (he points out that in 1993 or so, 70% of all African American college graduates took j ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
It was written in 1995 and I'm just now reading it in 2011. The author gives a good historical background to bring the reader up to the current era. Much of what he has hypothesized has come to pass, some is yet to be realized, but I do think that the only thing that is uncertain is the time-frame. Human labor will be phased whenever and wherever it is possible. The question will be how will societies that have been previously organized around human labor be organized in the future when it is mo ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a +20 year old book, about technology, job market and globalization, but, still very relevant on current days.

The author drives us into a very detailed scenario pointing out several characteristics of our current market and the world and how they are going to create a jobless future... very near to us.

The author also advocates on a growing share of third sector activities and non-lucrative occupations as a healthy and a valid alternative to the future when finding a job will be harder o
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Covers a good summary of automation and the industrial revolution. Looking ahead, its forecasts of the future are yet to be fulfilled, twenty years after its release. The author has multiple ideas about how to prevent mass unemployment, and although many of the ideas have been tried, far from all have been successful.

Still, the book raises important questions which we have to deal with as automation continues and artificial intelligence evolves.
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a book that was published in 1995, the content is still incredibly relevant. Unemployment and job displacement due to automation is real and it impacts the working class first. Lots of solid research and statistics here. Would be nice to have an updated intro/foreword on how the last 20 years have fared.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
"Finally, by the mid-1970s more than 19 percent of all U.S. workers had jobs in the public sector, making the government the largest employer in the United States." (Page 33)

I found a lot to quote in this book, but the above is the only thing that I copied into my notes.
Bruno Konieczny
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this book back in the nineties when it was written.
Joseph Peters
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
His history and diagnosis of the existential problem are very good, but the solutions he proposes are beyond inadequate and in many ways bafflingly divorced from reality.
Davide Giglioli
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
so visionary in 1995!
and so actual now!
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
By now this book is more historic than anything else. A very interesting read since most of what the author predicted has come to pass. Please read on and let’s think on a better future together.
Benjamin Gruber
Dec 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Naiv pro Capitalist utopian. You may always ask yourself...why is te paradise not here yet.
May Ling
Jun 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I read this book on the suggestion of a friend. In general, I'm not a fan. Here are some highlights.

On the positive side of the book, Rifkin has obviously done a very thorough job researching employment throughout the century, various periods, etc. He also makes some interesting points with respect to the manner in which technology rids people of jobs. He does articulate that the net result is that production increases past the point of which the economy can absorb the excess.

However, where I r
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
When Rifkin wrote The End of Work in the 90s, the risks of automation were looming. He presented suggestions for avoiding a decent into dark age brought on by income inequality and an economically irrelevant population. He foresaw a world of equality, leisure, and fulfillment that we could actualize through little more than a change in attitudes about wealth and employment. The choice was ours.

We decided that, indeed, a small minority should be cash rich but time poor while everyone else has the
Luke Echo
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Rifkin must have had some very busy researchers on this one. It reads like a compendium of statistics and anecdotes on everything and anything. Its also very boring.

The main issues other than boredom come towards the end with his savior "the Third Sector" (the volunteer sector, NGOs, Community and Church Groups etc..) as though somehow these groups will be able to meet the failings of the market /government.

But its hard to see how volunteering is really going to provide food, housing or medical
Alfiero  Santarelli
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
As I had the chance to see in previous works, Rifkin is great at doing analysis but quite dogmatic and naive when doing synthesis. In other words: "The end of work" is a great and enlightening overview of the undergoing revolution in work paradigms, where automation is replacing people and making them mostly useless: it provides figures and an historical perspective, showing us what is coming in our direction. For that part, the book is a 5-star.
Then comes the suggested solution, and Rifkin beco
Greg Linster
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
I read this book because I'm writing my M.A. thesis about technological unemployment and the future of the digital economy. Given all that's going on with technology today (e.g., driver-less cars), I figured this would be an interesting read. And, for the most part, it was.

On one hand, I think Rifkin presciently diagnosed an interesting problem, and in a Marxian vain. However, I think he makes some grand assertions in the book that don't quite align with reality. Rifkin also peppers readers wit
Mildly persuasive, but long in the tooth, this book makes the case that work, in the traditional sense, is going to decrease in the future, due to increases in productivity brought about by technology. He sees this headed in one of two directions: unemployment skyrockets and crime goes up, or, his proposed alternative, that we mobilize all this manpower where they're needed: non-profit organizations, the "third sector."

The rest of the book is a shockingly large number of pages are devoted to cel
Oct 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Blaming technological innovations for unemployment, a tired and old canard. Rifkin's ideological ancestors many thousands of years ago certainly complained that the development of the wheel increased unemployment, much like Obama blamed ATMs for displacing jobs for bank employees. Rifkin stops short of predicting that the future will be some form of Star Trek utopia where all of our needs, from basic to advanced, are fulfilled by machines. Rifkin seems to vie for dictatorial/technocratic society ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
A more intelligent argument than most I have heard for something other than a market economy (for which I remain an advocate). Rifkin argues that the advances in technology are quickly taking us to a state in which few workers are needed. The resulting unemployment and free time should lead to increased participation in the third sector of volunteerism and community service. He also makes a decent case for a negative income tax for certain low incomes, which in my opinion, beats the alternatives ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Apart from that book should have been written in 100 pages instead of 250 pages, the author makes sense. Man vs. machine and machine wins.

What really surprised me about the book that Jeremy doesn't even mention population control. Maybe Jeremy doesn't know that the only reason Europe started having middle class is because of black plague that wiped out 40% of population and increased the wages of the remaining people.

The book presents the problem we all know, that machines are faster, better and
Adam Miller
I really enjoyed this book and I though it had a lot of great things to say about a possible future. I especially enjoyed the parts on developing the third sector of the economy and the introduction of a guaranteed annual income. A lot of really interesting info but I didn't like how the book was organized and I felt he went too far into detail on economic matters which of course can be monotonous. Its also a little dated so you can actually track some of the info to see what has happened and wh ...more
Great read, an incredibly meticulous if sometimes repetitive rundown on post-Fordist production and Toyotification.

That said, I agree with George Caffentzis' critique that the volunteer sector cannot possibly replace the formal economy. As far as solutions go, this book comes up short - I would recommend Andre Gorz and Inventing the Future to anyone interested in more substantive solutions.

Rifkin pretty wildly underestimates the potential of the internet, which makes for some entertaining retro
Ken  Van Allen
Mar 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
There is so much Rifkin could have done with this book, but didn't. I was disappointed that more time wasn't spent discussing the transition to an automation economy. But alas, Rifkin is a socialist, and we can't see eye to eye on things economic. Bottom line: as the world becomes more automated, those who want to derive the benefits of automation had better become owners of the means of production. ...more
Luis Fonseca
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the first and best books so far on the complete redesign of our working environment. Jeremy insights on how the world has evolved much faster than the systems and mindset that support our jobs, is mind blowing. If you are entering the market right now or thinking about creating your own company, this is a must read.
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