My fellow bloggers, Ted Lewis and Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez, claim robot automation of knowledge work is proceeding at such as pace that many workers will be displaced from jobs, and there will be no new replacement jobs available for them. Robots will take over all kinds of work and there will be no work left for humans. They further claim the only good way to address this inevitable socially undesirable situation is “basic income guarantee” (BIG). There is a more optimistic side to this complex issue and it is not as bleak and prohibitively expensive as BIG. To show it, I will briefly examine these questions:
- What is new about job displacement with AI technology?
- How fast is it happening?
- What is a good social response to the disruption?
“As industrial robots go from being caged and very expensive (and high-maintenance) to affordable and collaborative, six in 10 manufacturers are expected to begin deploying robotics technology across a wide range of tasks (including assembly and materials handling),” say Daniel Araya and Christopher Sulavik in a recently posted Brookings Institute blog.
For the last year and a half, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have been arguing that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Since 2000, employment has hit a wall as productivity continues to grow. We are seeing the beginning of a revolution that will displace not only manual labor, but so-called white-collar labor as well. Continue reading