Home » Architecture » Technological Unemployment, the Architecture Profession, and My Worth as an Author

Technological Unemployment, the Architecture Profession, and My Worth as an Author

I believe Michael Ferguson‘s analysis about the future, jobs, and technological unemployment is essentially correct,


Technology is automating more and more jobs.  We software-oriented architects are the “grunts” that are helping to usher this process along.  Indeed, we are working to automate ourselves out of traditional employment.  We have been creating conditions which favor permanent entrepreneurship for every one of us, and which do not favor traditional employment for any of us.

From a Coasean economics perspective, information technology is helping to reduce general transaction costs worldwide such that transaction costs internal to firms and external to them are approaching parity.  In other words, it is increasingly nonsensical for any company to bother hiring employees.  This does not mean however, that companies do not need people, nor does it mean that future consumers do not need the products of your hard work!  Read Michael’s article for his detailed analysis of this phenomenon.

How can I write a book on a “theory of I/T architecture”, of the philosophy and science of I/T architecture, without addressing this trend?  I can’t.  I need to discuss where we have been as professionals, where we are, and where were are going.  I must play the futurist and make predictions.  Of course, some of my predictions will be shown to have been correct over time, some wrong, but stick my neck out I must!  There is no way I can write such a book, sit on the side lines, and simply throw up my arms and say, “I have no idea what to do next.”  If I am not attempting to help my readers make critical decisions about their personal futures, then what good would I be as an author?  Why should you bother to read what I have to write?


3 thoughts on “Technological Unemployment, the Architecture Profession, and My Worth as an Author

  1. This is where the professional fits within the coasean scheme. The purpose of a professional is to enable efficient transactions based on his/her expertise, at least in a coasean world. Building architects, lawyers, and doctors all do this. Without these professions it would be necessary for someone to learn this material. However it is more than learning. Internet searches are not enough. The core of a professional, at least according to Schon (The refelective practitioner) and Abbott (A system of Professions) is the way that the professional internally processes this information that adds the value. The 3-4 years in a school learning how to process this information in a particular way is then leveraged across multiple clients.

    The economic aspect of this is the challenge. To attract the best people to a profession requires some degree of financial stability, lest they all be wild-eyed entrepreneurs. Business, on the other hand, always seeks to push down this cost by finding cheaper substitutes (i,e, the Internet etc.). This is why the barrier to entry for these professions remains high (as opposed to ITIL and PMI which lead to very commoditized usage). This is what FEAPO. CAEAP, IASA and other organizations have to focus on to be professionals.

    • While professionals have internalized their practice to the point that recognition and practice of subtleties are “automatic”, I have often thought that the real purpose of a professional was to be a trusted practitioner of their associated craft. Professionals are credentialed, sometimes even through force of law. Professionals are trusted to make decisions about life and death, sickness and health, wealth and poverty, freedom and confinement, ownership or serfdom. Professionals can be sued, while the non-professional can claim ignorance. Trust is what enables customers to place their fate into the hands of a stranger.

  2. It is this trust aspect that makes me think that the IASA curriculum needs to focus more completely on professional ethics and the worldview required to develop and adhere to those ethics. (I also conceptualize “ethics” in the widest, philosophical sense, and not simply the “shall nots” of simple pledge.)

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