Western Minnesota Road Trip. Freestyle talk about my travel in the last last 6 weeks. My reflections on a weekend jaunt to Western Minnesota’s New Ulm and Walnut Grove, tying in the talk about technology threatening jobs in the future. Recent road trips have intensified my interest in the history of the Western United States. There is a lot of significant western history in Minnesota. We often think of historic topics like Indian Wars and Pioneers has happening further west, but one of the bloodiest clashes between settlers and American Indians happened in New Ulm in 1862, when the mostly German townspeople had to barricade the streets of their town to fight off attacks by the Dakota. Further west is Walnut Grove, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the famous ‘Little House On The Prairie’. While the museum in Walnut Grove could use a little bit better curation, some of the artifacts in the museum are interesting, especially grasshoppers or Locusts the size of a man’s hand, which plagued the settlers of Walnut Grove. When you examine items in a museum, it’s easy to think about how old they are. For the people of the time though, it was new technology. It’s fun to flip the script and wonder what our descendants will think of the artifacts of our time in a museum at some point a hundred years from now. Today, supposedly new tech like robotics and autonomous machines and software threatens millions of jobs. Proposed ‘solutions’ to this ‘threat’, like guaranteed minimum incomes and job retraining programs don’t make much sense. When people came west for opportunity, 140 years ago, they didn’t have job retraining programs. They couldn’t have known they’d be plagued by grasshoppers the size of a man’s hand. Yet they came anyway. We need to start thinking about the opportunity new technology provides us in building a new world, and stop being so negative all the time. Sponsored by Karow Contracting and Hydrus Performance.
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