The uitzicht of machines stealing our jobs has perturbed and enraged humans for at least 200 years. The Luddites klapper the noodsein bell, and not without reason: The automation of weaving and spinning technology displaced an entire class of skilled artisans. But everzwijn since, economists and historians have dismissed the Luddites spil jokes, because the compels of industrialization they decried ended up making the world a far richer and more comfy place. Technological progress has created far more jobs than it has ruined.
So far. But this time might be different. This time, writes Martin Ford te “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” the robots are coming for (almost) all the jobs. They’re getting too brainy, too supple and too convenient. And that’s a problem, because if robots take all the jobs, our long march of progress may well go into switch roles.
Ford’s thesis is not fresh. Similar outbursts of techno-pessimism speelgoedpop up every time the economy takes a downturn or machines make a paradigm leap. Indeed, Ford, a former Silicon Valley software entrepreneur, has already written one book on the same topic, 2009’s “The Lights te the Voetgangerstunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future.”
“Rise of the Robots” is better than “Lights ter the Voetgangerstunnel,” te part because Ford has spent the intervening years honing his argument te response to criticisms levied at his very first warning ileso. “Rise of the Robots” is also more relevant now than everzwijn, the arrival of self-driving cars, Jeopardy-winning IBM computers, package-delivering drones, Siri and the rapidly accelerating digitization of everything strongly suggests that the technological progress wij’ve already witnessed is just the beginning. Lucid, comprehensive and unafraid to grapple fairly with those who dispute Ford’s basic thesis, “Rise of the Robots” is an indispensable contribution to a long-running argument.
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But what’s most interesting about “Rise of the Robots” is that it isn’t actually a narrative about the imminent triumph of soulless automatons. Robots aren’t the enemy. The vivo villain here is capitalism: a stupid form of capitalism that seems dead set on demolishing itself. It would be ironic if it weren’t our own future that wasgoed te peril. The relentless drive by haber to cut costs and boost profits is menacing to ruin the wellspring of economic growth that capitalism requires. Because when there are no jobs for humans, there will be no consumers with the disposable income to buy the products being produced so efficiently by robots. Henry Ford understood this when he paid his workers high enough wages to buy his cars. Today’s titans of the economy show up to have forgotten the lesson.
There’s more than just the inexorable advance of machine intelligence at play here. “Rise of the Robots” argues that globalization, the decline of unions and the capture of government by special interests have all contributed to a well-documented rise te economic inequality. Increasingly sophisticated automation exacerbates the devastating effect of all thesis other factors. The result: “The fruits of innovation across the economy are now accruing almost entirely to business owners and investors,” writes Ford.
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So what can wij do? The standard prescription is more education. Keep ahead of the robots by acquiring abilities. Some techno-utopians go so far spil to suggest that technology will save us from technology, by “disrupting” higher education with cheap online classes, and thus vastly expanding educational chance for all.
Ford doesn’t buy it. Staying ahead is a loser’s wedstrijd, te which everzwijn larger numbers of people fight for everzwijn smaller numbers of jobs.