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Out Of Economic Chaos, A New Order May Be Rising

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Out Of Economic Chaos, A New Order May Be Rising

Economy

Out Of Economic Chaos, A New Order May Be Rising

Out Of Economic Chaos, A New Order May Be Rising

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/140766796/140766970" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Every week it seems there are more people looking for work, more companies laying people off, and more nations teetering at the edge of unrecoverable debt. But beyond the latest headlines of gloom, there is a fundamental shift going on in our economy and our world. Host Scott Simon talks with Mike Hawley, formerly of MIT's Media Lab, who says that shift may also hold great promise.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

What happens to jobs? What happens to work? We're going to turn now to Michael Hawley, formerly at MIT's Media Lab. He's a computer scientist, who has held the Dreyfoos professorship at MIT. He was the principal engineer at NeXT with Steve Jobs. Michael Hawley is also a pianist. He won the Van Cliburn Competition in 2002. Dr. Hawley joins us now from the studios of NPR Member station WGBH in Boston. Thanks so much for being with us.

MICHAEL HAWLEY: It's a pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: So what's going on on this century?

HAWLEY: There are natural disasters. There are economic and technological ones. The real question is what we do afterwards.

SIMON: Let me get you to talk a bit about something as case-specific as the auto industry, which for years kind of in one way or another defined American workmanship.

HAWLEY: Think about all the disruption that could cause. You might not have to own a car. Well, that might be good. You'd have a garage that you could use to start up a company instead of storing a couple of rusting hulks of metal in it. You'd never have to call Tom and Ray Magliozzi again, because you wouldn't have to fix your car.

SIMON: Now, you're talking.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HAWLEY: But things have to change and there's always room to make life better. And that's I think what this quest for better technologies is about.

SIMON: For many people, the quest to make life better begins with having a job that you ideally like but that which can support you and your family.

HAWLEY: And instead of looking at 9.2 percent unemployment, we could ask what are the prospects for letting those 9.2 percent of the population be reeducated and go back to school and learn new skills. Surely we can afford to do that. But we don't seem to be focused in that way.

SIMON: Michael Hawley, thank you very much.

HAWLEY: You can call me collect anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And Michael Hawley is a former engineer at MIT's media lab. He spoke with us from Boston. And, by the way, he's an accomplished pianist, too. Here he is performing the music of Alexander Scriabin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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