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We all know that some large portion of workers and their jobs are threatened—now and in the future—by new technologies. That’s why I’ve been increasingly writing about the conditions and consequences of robots and automation. According to McKinsey, “currently demonstrated technologies could automate 45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about […]

As readers know, I have no particular nostalgia for industry. Or for the supposedly good manufacturing jobs that were the mainstay of the American Dream in the postwar period. That’s why I agree (in part) with Dietz Vollrath in his response to Nouriel Roubini’s dire warnings about the risk to blue-collar manufacturing jobs posed by the […]

New technologies—automation, robotics, artificial intelligence—have created a specter of mass unemployment. But, as critical as I am of existing economic institutions, I don’t see that as the issue, at least at the macro level. The real problem is the distribution of the value that is produced with the assistance of the new technologies—in short, the […]

Today, thousands of scientists, science educators, and others are protesting in hundreds of cities around the world against what they see as a global political assault on science. According to Lucky Tran, who serves on the steering committee of the March for Science, We need another scientific revolution. The first scientific revolution transformed our understanding the natural […]

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may not be worried. Nor, it seems, are other members of the economic and political elite. But the rest of us are—or we should be. As regular readers of this blog know (cf. all these posts), the robots are here and they’re rapidly replacing workers, thus leading to less employment, downward pressure […]

Millions of workers have been displaced by robots. Or, if they have managed to keep their jobs, they’re being deskilled and transformed into appendages of automated machines. We also know that millions more workers and their jobs are threatened by much-anticipated future waves of robotics and other forms of automation. But mainstream economists don’t want us to touch […]

There doesn’t seem to be anything remarkable about mainstream economists’ rejection of the new populism. Lest we forget, mainstream economists in the United States and Europe (and, of course, around the world) mostly celebrated current economic arrangements. As far as they were concerned, everyone benefits from contemporary globalization (the more trade the better) and from the […]

Apparently, the latest attempt to redefine the role of economists is to encourage them to be plumbers. Maybe it’s just my age but, when I read plumbers, I immediately think of the covert Special Investigations Unit in the Nixon White House—the operation that began with attempting to stop the leak of classified information (such as the Pentagon […]

According to the Wall Street Journal, “never before have big employers tried so hard to hand over chunks of their business to contractors.” What’s happening is large employers—like Virgin America and Wal-Mart—are choosing from a number of different options when it comes to their workers. One is to introduce robots and other forms of job-killing […]

When it comes to artificial intelligence and automation, the current White House seems to want to have it both ways. On one hand, it warns about the potentially unequalizing, “winner-take-most” effects of the economic use of artificial intelligence: Research consistently finds that the jobs that are threatened by automation are highly concentrated among lower-paid, lower-skilled, and less-educated […]