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Basic Books
  • Hardcover
  • $26.99 / $30.00 CAN
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-465-01844-4
Praise for The New Ruthless Economy

"Simon Head's acute and clearly presented book shows how innovations in software are making work more onerous and closely controlled.... In the early days of American industry Alexis de Tocqueville noticed that ‘at the very time at which the science of manufactures lowers the class of workman, it raises the class of masters'.... The New Ruthless Economy shows how American society is moving in the direction Tocqueville anticipated."
-Andrew Hacker, New York Review of Books

"Add worker empowerment to a growing list of new economy promises that have largely failed to pan out. As this hard-hitting book shows, most Americans have used information technology not to liberate workers from drudgery, but to further their regimentation.... Simon Head offers a sobering view of the new workplace."
-Harvard Business Review

"Simon Head's argument takes off from the simple but powerful observation that conditions in many tech-heavy workplaces look a lot more like those on the factory assembly lines of the 19th and early 20th centuries, than like the sunny 21st century think tanks of the new economy."
-Peter G. Gosselin, Los Angeles Times


Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans

By Simon Head

The tools of corporate efficiency—expert systems, databases, and operations management—have improved our lives significantly, but with a cost: they're turning us into mindless drones.

We live in the age of Computer Business Systems (CBSs)—the highly complex, computer-intensive management programs on which large organizations increasingly rely. In Mindless, Simon Head argues that these systems have come to trump human expertise, dictating the goals and strategies of a wide array of businesses, and de-skilling the jobs of middle class workers in the process. CBSs are especially dysfunctional, Head argues, when they apply their disembodied expertise to transactions between humans, as in health care, education, customer relations, and human resources management. And yet there are industries with more human approaches, as Head illustrates with specific examples, whose lead we must follow and extend to the mainstream American economy.

Mindless illustrates the shortcomings of CBS, providing an in-depth and disturbing look at how human dignity is slipping as we become cogs on a white collar assembly line.

Simon Head, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University and Senior Member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University, serves as the Director of Programs at the New York Review of Books Foundation. He divides his time between Oxford, England and New York.

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