e prospect of machines stealing our jobs has perturbed and enraged humans for at least 200 years. The Luddites hit the alarm bell, and not without reason: The automation of weaving and spinning technology displaced an entire class of skilled artisans. But ever since, economists and historians have dismissed the Luddites as jokes, because the forces of industrialization they decried ended up making the world a far richer and more comfortable place. Technological progress has created far more jobs than it has destroyed.
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This time, writes Martin Ford in “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 smart, too flexible and too convenient. And that’s a problem, because if robots take all the jobs, our long march of progress may well go into reverse.
By Andrew Leonard.