Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Will robots steal all our jobs?

Shockingly, probably not (NationalJournal via Instapundit):

Oxford's Frey and Osborne agree. "Our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization—i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills," they conclude.

But the flip side of blaming the robots is what Dean Baker, codirector of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, worries about: that the robots-will-take-our-jobs story provides a convenient excuse for policymakers to avoid casting the blame for widening inequality on themselves. If the people who make and own robots get rich, it's because patent laws allow people to charge a lot for them, Baker says. "If that's the basis of inequality, I don't see that much as an excuse, in the sense that that's policy-driven and not robot-driven."

Everyone agrees the world will look different as it fills up with these technological advances. Will it be one of mass unemployment? Not necessarily, and some economists are taking heart from the fact that robots don't seem to be cropping up in the latest worrisome data about the labor market. Now, will the robots one day rise up and revolt against us? That's a different question.

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