I, for one, welcome our robot overlords—they can't be any worse than Trump


Throughout human history mankind has used tools to make living easier. This began with stone tools, and has evolved over the centuries to computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics. During the industrial revolution machines displaced workers. Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University stated in 2012:

Since the dawn of the industrial age, a recurrent fear has been that technological change will spawn mass unemployment. Neoclassical economists predicted that this would not happen, because people would find other jobs, albeit possibly after a long period of painful adjustment. By and large, that prediction has proven to be correct.

That is the official line on technological unemployment. Looms took the place of weavers, agricultural jobs that required teams of horses, and men, can today be done by one man driving one machine. On a more local level we see this every time we go into a grocery store and see the self-checkout lanes.

About that long period of painful adjustment Rogoff talked about, Moshe Y. Vardi, a professor of Computer Science at Rice University said,

They are definitely right about the long period of painful adjustment! The aftermath of the Industrial Revolution involved two major Communist revolutions, whose death toll approaches 100 million. The stabilizing influence of the modern social welfare state emerged only after World War II, nearly 200 years on from the 18th-century beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

The technological advances we are experiencing now, and coming in the near future will likely make the job losses of the Industrial Revolution look minuscule in comparison. Artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics, and automation will change society as we know it (that is if we survive climate change, but that is another diary).

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