The Human Cost Of The Computer Age

The Human Cost Of The Computer Age
by John Authers and Alison Maitland
Financial Times
January 30, 2004 … temID=4911

I read this blistering article about “down testing” employees for the tech industry. I’d never run into references for this before, does anyone know of any Taiwan or Asian examples? Specifically I am looking for some of the industry psych or assessment standards for this kind of “people press” that the poor are put under before hiring for high tech industry jobs. Unfortunately the article gives no references. It spells a particularly grim picture. I find it’s notion of who gets hired and why to be particularly intolerable…

Thanks for linking to a very well written and informative article. Capitalist globalisation in a nutshell. Similar trends can be seen all over the world. Take pregnancy testing. Do you know that women migrant workers in Taiwan are also subject to a no-pregnancy rule, and can be deported if they become pregnant?

Down testing? Ah, yea … That’s been my entire Taiwan experience. OK, I can admit that things are not as sweat-shop and dire as the article here in Taiwan, the the principle remains the same.

As a rule, Asian owners of capital (laobans) try to employ and/or create environments where the employee doesn’t have to think. “A thinking employee is a dangerous employee.” The boss does all the thinking. Although not as severe in some Asian cultures specifically, it is painfully obvious here.

Creativity, although sought after in word, is not valued … and not only not valued, but also feared by the boss. “A creative employee is a dangerous employee.” Thinking and creative employess only have one ambition in Taiwan: to be their own boss (at least from the perspective of the traditional laoban).

And indeed, this is why you so often see the soap-opera-ish life of small and medium sized companies with employees suddenly leaving the company, trying to steal the cusotmers of the boss and set up a compeiting factory, shop or stall directly across the street.

Thus, “creativity” is seen as an ingredient for disloyalty, disloyalty ticking like a time-bomb. Some say creativity and problem-solving could be indications of one’s pride in his or her work … but I don’t buy it. I’ve worked in too many Taiwanese companies to believe that creativity is a virtue here. Economically speaking, creativity just isn’t a commodity. The only kind of creativity that is valued is the “Smart Chinese” variety where you stealthly steal your next door neighbor’s idea for your own. And this is therefore, why few invest in creativity. There are few economic returns to creative investment that isn’t about siphoning off the ideas, plans, customers or products of your boss.

Therefore, YES, I too would also screen people out if I were hiring. I simply couldn’t trust thinking people here. I’d have to watch them and control information too much. That would waste my time. I’d be better served hiring a few than can think that I can supervise, and a host of other unambitious people.

That article reminds me of when someone from Philips here was quoted in one of the papers as saying they preferred female factory workers because they were easier to control.

First the jobs moved to Mexico, then to China… and next?

India … lots of people, English-speaking, low wages, lots of smart techies.

Dude, if they do that, I am so there. I’d sell my left nut to get off this mudball.

My housekeeper says this is true even if you’re going to work in the US (not sure about being deported) or Kuwait/Saudi Arabia where she’s worked.