In a new interview with FT, Larry Page expects us to work less, have cheaper homes and cheaper goods.
Collapsing house prices could be another part of this equation. Even more than technology, he puts this down to policy changes needed to make land more readily available for construction. Rather than exceeding $1m, there’s no reason why the median home in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley, shouldn’t cost $50,000, he says. For many, the thought of upheavals like this in their personal economics might seem pie in the sky – not to mention highly disturbing. The prospect of millions of jobs being rendered obsolete, private-home values collapsing and the prices of everyday goods going into a deflationary spiral hardly sounds like a recipe for nirvana. But in a capitalist system, he suggests, the elimination of inefficiency through technology has to be pursued to its logical conclusion.“You can’t wish away these things from happening, they are going to happen,” says Page. “You’re going to have some very amazing capabilities in the economy. When we have computers that can do more and more jobs, it’s going to change how we think about work. There’s no way around that. You can’t wish it away.”
What of people who might regret losing their work? Once jobs have been rendered obsolete by technology, there is no point wasting time hankering after them, says Page. “The idea that everyone should slavishly work so they do something inefficiently so they keep their job – that just doesn’t make any sense to me. That can’t be the right answer.”
He sees another boon in the effect that technology will have on the prices of many everyday goods and services. A massive deflation is coming: “Even if there’s going to be a disruption on people’s jobs, in the short term that’s likely to be made up by the decreasing cost of things we need, which I think is really important and not being talked about.” New technologies will make businesses not 10 per cent, but 10 times more efficient, he says.