Fear of the robots is founded in the messy reality of labour — FT.com

Interesting argument about how technological innovation which increases productivity should lead to higher wages creating demand for new jobs to take those made redundant by the new technology. Everybody happy in the long run, of course we know what happens to people in the long run.

What this assumes is that technological innovation will lead to growth and the problem is that does not seem to be happening at the moment and even if it did there are some “headwinds” which might undermine the growth potential.

When the employment destructive potential of robots is discussed there is always a quick reference to how wrong the luddites were. I guess this is another thing about being wrong in the long term. How much consolation that is to luddites who only lived short term is debatable.

It is not clear that the current innovations are qualitatively different from previous ones and thus may have a qualitativly different economic effect. Mr Weldon is right however about the way power relationships will structure how new technologies are implemented and the economic impact they have on labour. The current levels of inequality means that much power is concentrated in very few hands. This has the potential to generate tensions which are resolved in seismic rather than evoutionary ways.

Political context matters in the face of rapid technological change, writes Duncan Weldon

Source: Fear of the robots is founded in the messy reality of labour — FT.com


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