The scenario is a mainstay of science fiction: Humans engineer themselves into obsolescence, creating a vast class of unemployable people. In the optimistic scenario, we spend our time reading, painting, and enjoying each other. In the darker version, we sink into permanent poverty as the owners of the machines keep all the wealth to themselves.

Every few decades this forecast pervades conversations about the future of work, and it’s always been wrong. Automation has ruined lives — it hasn’t ruined the labor market.

We find ourselves in another era of automation anxiety right now. Futurists like Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots, argue that the technology in development today is fundamentally different from everything that came before and will be substantially more disruptive. Silicon Valley executives are calling for a basic minimum income to support the workers they’re certain their inventions will displace.

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Published by Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future. He lives in London with a single android - a temperamental vacuum cleaner - but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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Why the rise of the robots won’t mean the end of work

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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