SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Noted Stanford University professor and futurist Paul Saffo doesn’t care to make a projection about who will win the presidential race.
But Saffo, who consults for many of Silicon Valley’s elite, will tell you that whether it’s Obama or Romney – the winner is faced with an economy that is structurally flawed on a number of levels, making the prospect of a quick turnaround nearly impossible.
“You could have Jesus Christ and he probably couldn’t fix it in four years,” Saffo told the Commonwealth Club of California recently.
“The problem is new jobs aren’t being created at all,” said Saffo, who believes that the nation could be facing a couple decades of what he termed “cyber-structural unemployment.”
Simply put, Saffo contends the rapid evolution of technology has fueled productivity gains without the need for large workforces.
“Productivity is jobless innovation,” he said. “This will ripple through the economy in ways that are not good for workers.”
Saffo said in past economic cycles, technology advancements would result in the creation of new jobs to replace those jobs that would go away – the principle sometimes referred to as ‘creative destruction.’
But under current conditions, he said technological innovation has reached a level where “not only are new jobs not coming on faster than old jobs are going away… (new) jobs aren’t being created at all.”
When asked whether Tuesday’s election would matter as it relates to the economy, Saffo replied: “Changing presidents looks different, but it doesn’t necessarily equal change.”
“It matters, but the job is harder than ever,” he continued. And Saffo added that the two major political parties have become so inflexible, it’s now very difficult to effect change.
“We desperately need a new architecture to understand the complexity of the global economy and our leaders are letting us down,” Saffo concluded.
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