Carol Forsloff — Next time you listen to a song that just made the top 10, listen carefully, as the entire song may be a result of synthesizing, digitizing music without real instruments at all. It is like that art on the wall at a nearby shop, computer generated without paintbrush and canvas. Writers also are challenged by technology, from those who have something to say, not necessarily the talent to say it, who can easily create a blog that mirrors the online traditional media, with the public often not knowing the difference. Artists of all stripes suffer in the world of technology as does labor in general.
On Kurzweil. net today, an article points out how the workforce throughout the world has lost many jobs due to technology. People queue in lines to check themselves out in grocery stores, automatic answering machines take messages or give instructions in ways service people used to do, your car is washed by elaborate car washing services and banking services that used to be part of direct service are now done largely online. In fact, many companies bypass personal service in favor of mechanically-recorded, digitized, web-based service instead.
So as politicians are blamed for the loss of jobs, the fact is, according to those who have examined the impact of technology on society, many, many jobs are being lost as a result of the mechanization of everything. It takes fewer and fewer people to perform even the most menial work. It also means that the artist of old—the writer, painter, musician—is often lost in the do-it-yourself phenomenon that has swept the world, leaving artists of all types without avenues for earning a living through creative work.
Musicians find they now compete with electronic production. Entire songs have been created using only computer-generated voices and instruments. But this is not the end of the story. As the market decreases for musician’s opportunities, the numbers of musicians increase, the wannabes, some with more wish than talent, and the repetitions of the same music expressions everywhere. While electric guitars have taken over modern music, the simple acoustic playing of a folk artist is relegated to the back benches of history. Still that wish for the simple, the real continues to thrive, despite the market’s message that a voice and an instrument can be created mechanically instead. And that same wish is held by the artist and the writer too.
Commentator Charles Hugh Smith wrote in Business Insider. “The Internet is destroying vast income streams that once supported tens of thousands of jobs in industries from finance to music. Craigslist has gutted the once-immense income stream from newspapers, and web-based marketing has shredded print-media advert page counts. Global competition and pressure to maintain profits and margins relenetlessly drives enterprises to slash payrolls.” The creative community is among those talented folks who find themselves sharing their music and art with each other, as the crowd of potential listeners is fed the mechanicals instead, often not realizing they were computer-generated as opposed to creatively developed from the artist’s skill.
So where will this all lead? Smith goes on to tell us, ““There is a ‘Third Way,’ but we’ve lost the skills and infrastructure required. Of the three elements of civil society, the Market and the State have crowded out Community. We either re-discover the labor-value of community or we devolve further into a potentially “death spiral” social and financial instability.”
It is that instability folks blame on their governments when indeed, as Smith points out, the problem may reside in the lack of infrastructure and planning for the social impact of technology. And the song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” will turn to “Where Have All the Artists Gone Who Sang, Painted and Wrote About the Flowers.”