Special Reports

The impending Digital Dust Bowl: Mitigation, survival and interdependence

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Myriad developments such as inexperience with newly automated methods of farming, topsoil shifts, and periods of drought and high winds triggered the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which exacerbated the ongoing decline of the U.S. economy. Today, the high affordability and rapidly spreading use of analytics and machine learning software reduce the amount of labor necessary to perform complex tasks. In short, we are farming our labor pool in different ways and destabilizing our labor markets in a manner similar to the way automated machinery destabilized our topsoil and helped trigger the Dust Bowl, a calamity with far-reaching economic consequences that compounded the troubles of a country suffering through the Great Depression, cemented in history in the John Steinbeck classic “The Grapes of Wrath.”

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