What Is Automation?

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We like to think humans are special. What we do can't possibly be automated. But robots are getting more and more sophisticated. There are robot financial advisers, robot radiologists, and pretty soon driverless cars will hit the road.

On today's show, we pit people against the machines. Even our jobs, writing radio stories, aren't safe.

Listen to the Planet Money episode: Robots vs. Humans

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We all want to know how many jobs will be threatened by the rise of robots and technology. You might feel vulnerable if your job is one that could be affected.

But thanks to a new report, 27% of the 160 million people in the United States labour force can breathe easier knowing their jobs are safer than they thought.

That’s 43 million living, breathing and working people in America. By extension, that’s three million Australians, nine million Brits and 27% of most advanced economy workforces.

Their prospects have been re-rated in new work by a group that includes one of the mathematicians who first raised the alarm on the risk to employment.

The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, published in September, is their most detailed investigation to date on the impact of technology and it now puts 20% of workers in the vulnerable category...

Continue reading David Fagan's article: Will technology take your job? New analysis says more of us are safer than we thought, but not all

Further Reading

Technological unemployment is the loss of jobs caused by technological change. Such change typically includes the introduction of labour-saving "mechanical-muscle" machines or more efficient "mechanical-mind" processes (automation). Just as horses employed as prime movers were gradually made obsolete by the automobile, humans' jobs have also been affected throughout modern history. Historical examples include artisan weavers reduced to poverty after the introduction of mechanised looms. During World War II, Alan Turing's Bombe machine compressed and decoded thousands of man-years worth of encrypted data in a matter of hours. A contemporary example of technological unemployment is the displacement of retail cashiers by self-service tills.

That technological change can cause short-term job losses is widely accepted. The view that it can lead to lasting increases in unemployment has long been controversial. Participants in the technological unemployment debates can be broadly divided into optimists and pessimists. Optimists agree that innovation may be disruptive to jobs in the short term, yet hold that various compensation effects ensure there is never a long-term negative impact on jobs, whereas pessimists contend that at least in some circumstances, new technologies can lead to a lasting decline in the total number of workers in employment. The phrase "technological unemployment" was popularised by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s, who said it was a "only a temporary phase of maladjustment". Yet the issue of machines displacing human labour has been discussed since at least Aristotle's time...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Technological Unemployment

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Related Topics

 Alienation | CapitalismEconomicsThe Future | GlobalizationThe Industrial Revolution | Marxism | Sociology

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