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Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future Paperback – July 12, 2016
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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A copy that has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged.\n\nWinner of the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award\n\nA New York Times Bestseller\n\nTop Business Book of 2015 at Forbes\n\nOne of NBCNews.com 12 Notable Science and Technology Books of 2015\n\nWhat are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making "good jobs" obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries-education and health care-that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.\n\nThe past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren't going to work. We must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading to understand what accelerating technology means for our economic prospects-not to mention those of our children-as well as for society as a whole.
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"When the automobile was invented it DID destroy many jobs. Makers of buggy whips and horse troughs were put out of business. But many more NEW jobs were created to replace those older jobs. Witness all the gas stations, auto mechanic shops, car factories, etc."
About 8 years ago I lost faith in the buggy whip argument. I realized that, as the technology of AI advanced, a point would be reached in which intelligent software and general-purpose robots could perform all tasks (both mental and physical) that are currently achievable only by highly educated humans. Once one intelligent robot exists with a high level of general intelligence, it can be mass produced. There have been many advances in AI in recent years (in neural networks, planning and learning systems). Machine learning systems can now learn a number of complex cognitive tasks simply by observing the past performance of human experts.
I have always been an admirer of the combination of modern capitalism and (relatively) free markets as the major drivers of wealth. However, modern capitalism (with its corporations, stock and dividends) is less than a few centuries old. There is no reason to believe that it must last forever. Its "reign" over older economic systems may well end abruptly in the near future.
At one time I toyed with writing a book about my concerns regarding intelligent automation and its future effect on political and economic systems but Martin Ford has a done a 100-times better job that I could have ever done. His book is very persuasive in pointing out why the "buggy whip" argument will cease to remain persuasive.
I only have two complaints about Ford's book: (a) the title sounds a bit too much like a title for a pulp-fiction work and so I fear that not enough people will read it and (b) the first 75 pages consist of a standard summary of current economic facts and principles and so I fear that some readers may quit reading his book before they get to the really interesting parts, which in my opinion, start after page 75.
Humans seem to be sleepwalking into a future regarding which they are largely unprepared. Will we slide into a dystopian techno-neo-feudalism when the jobs largely evaporate across nearly all sectors, including the cognitive arena "knowledge worker" domains thought to be relatively bulletproof? We are all in this together -- much as our narcissistic one-tenth-of-one-percenters like to deny it. "Wealth" is a relative thing, much as they prefer to deny it.
My initial interest in this book (based on an NPR interview I heard) was that of his take on health care (my area -- Health IT), which I will be writing up forthwith. But, the larger problem is equally if not moreso compelling. How will we all "earn our keep" if reliable employment diminishes by half or more, regardless of our skills and initiative? Are we headed for "Elysium"?
Being of recent issue and up-to-date on the rapidly advancing technologies, the book is the best of the lot for what it covers: the economic fallout and possible solutions to near full automation and the loss of most jobs at all levels and surprisingly a large number of the jobs to go first are those jobs that are at middle level and are mostly dealing with repetitive data to which even at this early stage of automation, machines and sophisticated algorithms are far better suited than humans are.
I had only very few and very minor disagreements with the author as to fixes of the problems total unemployment will bring.
None of the books cared to go there because capitalism is a sacred cow and in the U.S. a book touting the need for a socialist distribution system to replace the worker's paycheck-driven system we are now using.
The ship that is capitalism is now taking on water, the holes that are the exponentially developing job-taking technologies in the keel are getting larger and the ship will go down slowly at first and then with a rush as Moore's Law has it's inevitable effect.
OTOH, what all of the books (".. Singularity.." ,Second Machine Age...Abundance, Life At The Speed Of light and "Rise.." stressed heavily right from the first chapter as most important in understanding the progress of technology is in understanding its exponential rather than linear progression.; that the speed of technological change is largely not understood by a very large percentage of the lay public.
Simply put, a great percentage of the public does believe that total automation will happen but not for about 100 years and decidedly not in the unbelievable to them but very real 20 year time frame dictated by Moore's Law .
The best part of this is that we don't have to wait so very long to see who is/was correct about the time frame.