Sue Halpern's How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over (New York Review of Books, April 2, 2015) provides a good look at challenges posed by increasing automation in a review of Nicholas Carr's recent book, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us. (For more on technological unemployment, see Frank Wisdom's Employment Theory Needs Work.)
Barbara Ehrenreich discusses technological unemployment in a review of Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots and Craig Lambert's Shadow Work:
- The solution, pretty much agreed upon across the political spectrum, was education. Americans had to become intellectually nimble enough to keep ahead of the job-destroying trends unleashed by technology, both robotization and the telecommunication systems that make outsourcing possible. Anyone who wanted a spot in the middle class would have to possess a college degree — as well as flexibility, creativity and a continually upgraded skill set.
- But, as Martin Ford documents in “Rise of the Robots,” the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated. Lawyers, radiologists and software designers, among others, have seen their work evaporate to India or China. Tasks that would seem to require a distinctively human capacity for nuance are increasingly assigned to algorithms, like the ones currently being introduced to grade essays on college exams.
- - ‘Rise of the Robots’ and ‘Shadow Work’, by BARBARA EHRENREICH, MAY 11, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/books/review/rise-of-the-robots-and-shadow-work.html
Gerald Huff presents a "rebuttal of the most common arguments against a future of technological unemployment" in Should We Be Afraid, Very Afraid?:
- On March 2, 2015 there was an Intelligence Squared debate held in London on the proposition “Be afraid, very afraid: the robots are coming and they will destroy our livelihoods.” ...
- In summary, these common arguments against the risk of technological unemployment ignore what is different about the technologies under development and they suggest solutions (“be creative”, “become a welder”, “develop an app”) that are unrealistic ways for tens of millions of displaced workers to continue to earn an income.
- Going back to the debate proposition, however, I don’t believe we need to be afraid. I think this technological progress can be an amazing achievement for humanity, if we adjust our mindset appropriately. With machines doing most of the work we will need a new social contract, new mechanisms like a basic income guarantee, and new conceptions of a meaningful life. I believe we should embrace a future where humans can be liberated to follow their passions, reach their full potential, and contribute to their communities.
- - Should We Be Afraid, Very Afraid?, Gerald Huff, https://medium.com/basic-income/should-we-be-afraid-very-afraid-4f7013a5137c