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Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  6,840 ratings  ·  673 reviews
What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? We might imagine—and hope—that today's industrial revolution will unfold like the last: even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new innovations of a new era. In Rise of the Robots, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. As ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Basic Books
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Daniel The Republican Party in the United States always wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Evidently they think the best response to the coming tsunami of…moreThe Republican Party in the United States always wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Evidently they think the best response to the coming tsunami of technological unemployment is to create more babies to compete for the shrinking supply of jobs.

To answer your first question, I'm not seeing much in the book about how to solve the problem. The book is more about explaining what the problem is than how to fix it. The first step in fixing a problem is to acknowledge that it exists, and so far I haven't heard of a government anywhere on the planet that acknowledges this one. We're basically stampeding toward massive, permanent unemployment with absolutely no plan. A guaranteed minimum income is one possible policy response, but it's hard to see that becoming a reality. It might not stand up to robotic deflation anyway - as people start losing jobs, they consume less, so the economy shrinks, so the gazillionaires have less money we could tax away to fund the guaranteed minimum wage. Basically, technological progress says the human population needs to shrink, like the horse population did when horses became obsolete, There's no nice way to do that. No politician could get elected on that platform.(less)

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Start your review of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
A popular campfire ghost story among businesses and economists these days is the ‘jobless future’ – the idea that rampant industrial automation and computerisation will soon mean a world where intelligent robots can do everything we can better and more efficiently than we can do it. At this year's World Economic Forum, everyone seemed keen to argue against this scenario, and I spent most of the week trudging across Davos from one freezing interviewee to another who wanted to tell me why it wasn' ...more
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much everyone under 55
Update September 2018: (previous updates after my review)

I lost track of this review, otherwise I would have written this update in May 2018.

A few paragraphs down, I point out that there was a video that came out in June 2015 that showed robots failing amusingly — see it here: At least they tried: Robot ‘epic fails’ compilation from DARPA Robotics Challenge. They can’t open a door without falling down! They sometimes fall over just trying to walk! It was hilarious, and I’m sure a lot of folks took that to heart: don’t worry
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book, not least since it is so lucid – the writer has a good grasp of IT and economics and this makes for some uncomfortable reading. I was in a meeting the other day with about half a dozen other people – all academics – and I mentioned I had been reading quite a lot lately about technology and employment and I was becoming quite concerned that we are about to face a kind of jobs apocalypse. Mostly, the people in the meeting thought I was crazy. One of them said she had rea ...more
Clif Hostetler
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
The premise of Rise of the Robots is simple: technology is accelerating so rapidly that automation is on the verge of taking over not just straight-forward physically oriented jobs but also "brain power" jobs as well in such fields as law, healthcare, journalism, engineering, and computer programming.

Similar sorts of warnings have been around since the time of the Luddites. So it's easy to disregard these warnings as one more dystopian prediction of the technological future (e.g. Where's the flying car we've
Mal Warwick
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Warren Buffett, who ought to know, recently told shareholders of his investment company, Berkshire-Hathaway, that the development of driverless cars poses a “real threat” to the insurance industry. Buffett cares a lot about insurance, because he’s got billions invested in it. But he might have broadened his concern to encompass the entire economy. Because the emerging application of robotics poses a “real threat” to the future wellbeing of our country and the world. In Rise of the Robots, Silico ...more
Atila Iamarino
Uma discussão bem interessante e embasada sobre automação e o futuro do mercado de trabalho. O Martin Ford consegue deixar bem claro que não tem um limite definido para o tipo de trabalho que será automatizado – até fazer hambúrguer em lanchonete está a perigo – e dá uma boa perspectiva sobre os avanços em várias áreas de tecnologia. É um livro que vai ficar desatualizado em poucos anos, mas por enquanto vale muito.

Um ponto que fica muito evidente é como o processo de substituição já
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
“Rise of the Robots" begins with a survey of the technology landscape – an over-clocked world where change seems to follow Moore's Law – doubling in speed every couple of years. Ford paints a picture of the capabilities of robots and the dismal economic climate for humans that has existed since the mid-seventies: real wages are declining; wealth is being concentrated in the hands of 1% of the nation; half of all college graduates are not finding work that can use their college education; even hi ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
Martin Ford is a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur and to put it simply, a polymath. He did not without reason win the 2015 Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year Award: Rise of the Robots – Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future is the first book in the 21st century which succeeds to combine the impacts of technology and economics onto mankind. It therefore rightly deserves to take the book award from the 2014 winner Capital in the 21st century, because Thomas Piketty’s analys ...more
Maciej Nowicki
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Rise of the Robots shows what are the jobs of the future and reflects many doubts about the future of the job market. People hope and imagine that the current industrial and technological revolution will eliminate some of the jobs, nevertheless, more positions will be created in order to deal with new possibilities and innovations. So, when we talk about technology we talk about the positives in terms of growth and the ability to enhance productivity.

Unfortunately, Martin Ford, the author o
Scott Sigler
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Frankly, this is some scary shit. The robots are coming for ... our jerbs!

I highly recommend this book to anyone under 30 (and especially under 20), as it will be y'all that face the full ramifications of this book's predictions. Hopefully most of us old farts will be retired and enjoying the care of robot nurses and doctors by that time.

Machine learning algorithms are going to heavily impact white collar jobs the same way robotics heavily impacted blue collar factory work. If you
Rapeepat Ingkasit
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ถือวาเปน Non Fiction เรืองเทคโนโลยีทีอานสนุกและเปิดหูเปิดตาดีครับ นาเสียดายทีบางชวงตอนดันไปใชเวลากับเรืองนโยบายซะเยอะ โดยเฉพาะนโยบายดานสุขภาพ (ตอนอานบทนัน รูสึกเหมือนอานหนังสือคนละเลม) แตโดยรวมแลว ถือวาเปนหนังสือแนะนำในยุคนีครับ แมวาหุนยนตอาจไมไดผงาด 100% ในยุคเรา แตกนาสนใจวาโลกในอนาคตทีมีระบบเศรษฐกิจไรงานจะเปนอยางไร ...more
Clare O'Beara
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a top-class, broad look at our use of machinery to do our work in the past, present and somewhat scary future.
We look at how co-operative strategies such as the co-ordinated build, factory, design teams and production line speeded up our work and production.
But today we have better tools to make the tools that make the machines, and we have faster, smarter computers. We are even approaching machine intelligence in some areas, and as I write the chess and go champions have been beaten b
Peter Mcloughlin
Many times people have cried wolf about automation and the risk of extreme unemployment from computers and robotics but this time the wolf may actually make an appearance. AI which always like Brazil was destined for future greatness and always would be is finally becoming a reality. The book details developments that have a serious potential of displacing not only manual and low level clerical workers but professionals who never thought they could be rendered redundant by robotics and AI. We a ...more

başlarda kitap çok hoşuma gitti, farklı ve distopik tarzda anlatımı beni kitabın içine çekti. verdiği örnekler akla yatkındı. geleceği düşününce mesleklerin evrileceği yeri hayal edebiliyordum ve esasen bu biraz ürkütücüydü. yine de anlatılanların gerçeğe çok yakın olması kitabı sevmeme sebep oldu. bu noktada kitap bana sık sık "ilerde biz ne iş yapacağız?" , "ilerde parayı nasıl kazanabileceğim?" sorularını sordurdu. çünkü çoğu iş (en azından benim yapabileceğim çoğu iş) makinel
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book to start the New Year off with as it really makes you consider the future.
It doesn't sound too appealing though - mass unemployment, increasing inequality as all but the highest level jobs get replaced by machines and ultimately the threat that we aren't in control at all as the machines become super intelligent. And of course the problem, for the economy that machines might be cheaper but they aren't consumers - liked the story of Henry Ford II and his union leader - Ford:
Bryan Alexander
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rise of the Robots is a brisk, accessible overview of current thinking about the possibilities of automation.

Martin Ford takes us through the major issues, technologies, and problems. He begins with several chapters exploring what we mean by automation (robotics plus good software), the importance of developments over the past decade, and the macroeconomic context. Then the chapters advance through the potential impact of automation on white collar jobs (management, professions), education, health ca
ณัฐกานต์ อมาตยกุล
ชือเรืองทำใหคิดวาเปนสายเทคโนโลยีจา จริงๆ แลวมันสำรวจเรืองเศรษฐศาสตรมากกวา ซึงสนุก เพราะมันกระทบกับเราเตมๆ จากทีเคยคิดแควาหุนยนตจะชวยลดตนทุน และใหบทเรียนกับคนทีไมปรับตัว แตผลประโยชนจากการลดตนทุนนันตกอยูกับนายทุน (กใชนะสิ) และผลประโยชนนันอาจไมยังยืน เพราะเมือตำแหนงงานจำนวนมากหายไป ผูคนกไมมีรายไดมาจับจายสินคา ผลิตมา ใครจะซือ
ฟังดูเชยๆ แตสนุกดีนะ ทำใหคิดอีกมุมวา เออวะ หุนยนตพัฒนา แลวเราไปอยูตรงไหน บางคนแยง ก re-skill หาโอกาสใหมในตลาดงานทีเปลียนไป แตความเปนจริง กลุมคนทีโดนคุกคามระลอกแรก มักเปนคน
Most of this book makes a pretty convincing case that automation is going to replace most jobs in the next 50 years, maybe less. I think I buy that, and thus I am personally worried, since a good portion of my job as a software engineer is probably automatable (in large part the actual coding I do involves writing boilerplate and figuring out how to integrate third party software, which, in theory, a machine could do quite well, with far less angst; in short, I am already a blue-collar coder, and that ...more
William Kyle Spratt
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Argues for larger taxes and a guaranteed income globally to combat the displacement of jobs due to technology. A lack of understanding of economics drives the author to this incorrect conclusion that taxes will create prosperity rather than individuals be responsible on acquiring new skills to adjust to the shift in jobs available. Author also cites incorrect statistics on productivity and wages and spends little time on the emergence of new technology and what the world will look like. I sugges ...more
Son Tung
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first book which introduces me to the real advancement + implication/speculation of AI tech for future economy. There is a prospect that not only old jobs but also white collar jobs will be replaced by the rise of more and more sophisticated intelligent machines. The results are serious, its about the widening gap of wealth, work crisis and social inequality.
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you decide to read one piece of nonfiction this summer, let this be it.

Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future is one of the most intelligent and important works of futurism to date. Although the book’s title might trigger images of popcorn and 3D glasses rather than a sober analysis of Earth’s economic future, Ford’s arguments are politically balanced, meticulously supported, and cleanly presented for non-specialists. His message––that technologi
Ford sets out the case for worrying about the advances being made in the fields of robotics and AI and the impacts they can be expected to have on society. He agrees that it is a familiar trope – machines replacing human workers, causing unemployment and hardship for those affected – and that the many predictions made in the past for an impending jobs armageddon have not come to pass. But he marshals a large amount of data that tells us that this time it will be different.

Drawing on
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Just read the second industrial age instead. Though this book is a nice update to that one and outlines the details of the robotics changes, it is shallower in theory and in history and way way too optimistic about UBI (again with the UBI. Bezos is apparently quite convincing in this echo chamber). I didn't care much for the proposals, but it was still a useful overview and also was pretty nuanced in analyzing some of the hysterics around the singularity
Katia N
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is a bit patchy in the quality of its analysis. But, I guess, the author is pioneering the new area in a wider public discourse. I could not find any other mainstream, relatively impartial and newer book on the subject.

What I liked about the book was the detailed and clear analysis of the current economic trends, such as the decline of labour share in GDP, inequality, inability of recent graduates to find suitable jobs etc.

What i did not find so convincing was the casual link between
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
Rise of the Robots (RoR) was voted as the Financial Time's Business Book of the Year* for 2015.

I found the book to be a disappointment. RoR goes over well trodden territory around automation, the shift of from a labour driven economy to a capital driven economy and the impending collapse of the consumption due to the shrinking middle class. Mr. Ford also provides a brief tour of the issues around the emergence of general purpose Artificial Intelligence** and nano technology. The book
Max Nova
May 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: automation, economics
Where Ford's first book was a revelation, his second book is a disappointment. He adds very little new to the conversation with "Rise of the Robots" - for the most part this book is a recycled laundry list of popular news articles about cool startups and technologies that are making progress in various areas of automation. If you've read his first book, The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future or Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is ...more
Quintin Zimmermann
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Rise of the Robots begins and ends like a dry, dense textbook replete with graphs, charts and statistics.

It is the middle part of the book that was the most illuminating and fascinating at times. I expected the author to delve solely into the loss of the blue-collar, menial jobs to robots, only to realise that the white-collar professionals are just as vulnerable to technological innovation.

Narrative Science's Quill software has already automated the creation of news articles for ma
Doichin Cholakov
Jun 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
With the Swiss Referendum on the universal basic income coming in three days you might be interested in the intellectual undercurrents that made the idea so widely popular lately.

This book actually is a good point to start. It is atrociously primitive in terms of both style and quality of the research, but seems to powerfully strike a chord and has collected a good amount of raving reviews and distinctions. The argument goes like that - since when we open the whatever media we are re
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is more of an extended edition of “the lights in the tunnel”. The author made significant updates on the present and future of smart machine or robot. On the other hand, he didn’t add too much on potential strategies to prevent disappearance of “lights”---including tax system and virtual jobs, which I feel to be main strength of his works.
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fine book. I've been looking to learn more about AI and robotization and what the implications are for the economy, labor, and society. For the first half of the book or so I learned very little, it was a series of examples of how these technologies are impacting our lives. That was fine and good but frankly if you've been keeping up with the news on this subject you won't be learning much here.

I'd say that the author's views skew towards a liberal analysis/perspective. For me that
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
В загальних рисах Мартін Форд намагається тримаючись золотої середини - не захоплюватись техно-прогресом, але і не впадати в якісь луддистський настрій та апокаліптичні прогнози. Зауважу, що на 99% книга написана на американському матеріалі через те в світовій перспективі напевне матиме досить багато зауважень. Оскільки наприклад такі сфери як Охорона здоров'я дуже різняться. Також відмічу той факт, що майже не звернуто погляд на ранжування не тільки суспільства (багаті-бідні), але і держав. Одн ...more
Athan Tolis
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ec-and-finance
It is 2015. Your spaceship is about to land on planet Earth after five years in deep hyperspace. The commander has asked you to brief him on the issues that have concerned the great and the good while you were away.

Look no further.

This broad, penetrating, level-headed and balanced survey of the full kaleidoscope of issues that have been hitting the headlines is all you’ll need.

Automation? Check

Globalization? Check

Moore’s Law? Check

May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Seems to me the first part of this book is the better half with all the charts and data backing up Ford's general premise that workers are being replaced by technology and the widening economic gap between the top 5% and everyone else isn't helping. First, robots and automation can do simple, repetitive tasks. Next robots and AI with deep learning capability can connect and communicate with each other; robots can now "learn" on their own, correct their mistakes, and become more efficient. Compan ...more
Rod Van Meter
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I finished this book several weeks ago, and a number of my thoughts are already starting to fade, and the whole is starting to blend into an impression with details no longer sharp, so forgive the vagueness and brevity of the review. (The start and finish dates below are also approximate.)

Ford musters a fair amount of detail on how automation is taking over many industries, and the book is very timely, with a lot of fresh data (as of early 2015). He covers manufacturing, of course, b
Sandra T
Una opinione pessimista sull'avvento delle macchine nel mondo del lavoro, dalla produzione di beni alla distribuzione dei servizi, fino alla sostituzione totale degli esseri umani, anche i più istruiti e talentuosi in ambiti considerati sicuri come la creatività artistica o la costruzione e manutenzione delle macchine stesse (ahi ahi, le reti neurali). Ne esce una visione distopica in cui la massa, in larghissima maggioranza, sta erodendo il suo margine di spesa discrezionale fin dagli anni '70 ...more
Volodymyr Stoyko
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Нова модель Tesla, повторний запуск та посадка першого ступеня ракети Falcon, робота над Hyperloop та багато інших тем на слуху в людей, що цікавляться сектором енергоефективних технологій та транспорту майбутнього. Одна з ключових ролей у цій сфері належить Ілону Маску, кожне висловлювання якого генерує тисячі матеріалів для новинних сайтів та обговорення на рівні міністрів у твітері. Одним з останніх резонансних інтерв'ю була розмова Маска на каналі CNBC на тему майбутньї ролі роботів у нашому ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
En udmærket og realistisk gennemgang af mulige fremtidsscenarier, når robotterne kommer og overtager det meste af arbejdet for os. Og vi kommer meget længere under overfladen end de sædvanlige fremtidsoptimistiske Kurzweill-disciples slideshows i stilen "Wuuuuhuuu fremtiden kommer med selvkørende biler lige om lidt" (Ja og hvad så?). Vi kommer godt ned i både global og nationaløkonomi, alle de mekanismer der er på spil, og hvad de førende eksperter mener om fremtiden - og Ford citerer ikke kun d ...more
Aaron Arnold
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Star Trek replicator has long been a dream of humanity - completely automated provision of the means of subsistence, with the potential to eliminate unprecedented amounts of drudgery. Far from everyone being freed to pursue their dreams of becoming starship captains, though, it's entirely possible that the current dramatic increase in automation will simply put humans out of work, whether those humans are low-wage burger-flippers, manufacturing workers at home or offshore, or white-shoe corp ...more
Pete Brigham
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I didn't want to read. Except I did. Except we all should, because like it or not, the future is coming, and the face of the future is a robot. Yes, we have all heard about the Tesla factories where a few people with clipboards oversee a vast army of whirring robots. We knew about Deep Blue playing chess. But did we know about robots that pick strawberries... at night? Or the robot that perfectly stacks cardboard boxes of irregular shapes, one per second? Or the "burger robot" t ...more
Hall's Bookshop
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: james
A lucid presentation of what the author describes as the greatest challenge of our time - how society might cope with the mass replacement of both skilled and unskilled labour by robots and AI. A balanced argument is generally put forward, along with a good range of anecdotal evidence / examples and useful graphs. Most interesting for me was the prediction that education and healthcare will almost certainly continue to rise in cost relative to other prices, and consequently pose the most immedia ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
not a great book actually..his theme are quite simple: i) the topics of automation will take over our jobs are not new ii) BUT this time and has been real all along that US is not creating new jobs, nor number of jobs and automation is increasing display the basic jobs...airport counter, McDonald counter, etc (have you all not noticed in the past 10 years???)..soon white collar jobs...iii) but not so much of the automation that caused the job reduction, from my understanding it was also the loss ...more
Hikmet Okur
Enteresan bir 'hikâye' olmuş Martin Ford'un kitabı. Peki neden hikâye? Başlarda adeta bir gerilim/korku türüymüş gibi başlıyor kitap: tekrarlı ve niteliksiz işlerden tutun da insana has el ve zihin becerisine muhtaç nitelikli işlere kadar bütün 'işlerin' insanoğlunun elinden kayıp gideceği üzerine çarpıcı olay ve uygulama örnekleri üzerinize üzerinize gönderiliyor. Kaldı ki, söylediklerinin gerçeklikle hiçbir bağı olmadığını iddia etmek büyük saflık olur. E haliyle insan da bir tedirgin olmuyor ...more
Clark Hays
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrifying read about the impending "AI Armageddon"

In all of those dystopian movies about the future, the introductory voiceover usually explains in a few sentences what led to the breakdown of society.

The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future is that voiceover, in terrifying detail.

Martin Ford, the author, is a clear-eyed chronicler of our impending economic doom. He examines the likely, probable effects of robotics, automation and artificial intelligence across a va
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
38th book for 2017.

Some interesting food for thought here.

AI is increasingly getting smarter, and increasingly has the ability to do jobs that were otherwise done by humans. Whatever Trump says, coal jobs are not coming back to the US, because machines not greens, have taken most of the jobs. Automation of work is not just happening in the West. Foxcomm, the infamous Chinese company that iPhones etc, and whose stressed out workers regularly suicide, has announced that it install *on
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An important book that examines how machines are fast taking over the work that we do today. Martin Ford is sober and balanced in his analysis, even though the subject matter lends itself easily to doomsday prophesies. Ford considers various scenarios of how things could play out in the future being careful to consider alternative scenarios and timelines in each case. He also discusses policies that could be implemented to dampen the the inevitable socio economic impact of accelerating technolog ...more
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Martin Ford is the author of the two books Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (2015) and The Lights In the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (2009) — both dealing with the effects of automation and mass-unemployment. He is the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm, and obtained a computer engineering degre ...more
“I find it somewhat ironic that many conservatives in the United States are adamant about securing the border against immigrants who will likely take jobs that few Americans want, while at the same time expressing little concern that the virtual border is left completely open to higher-skill workers who take jobs that Americans definitely do want.” 10 likes
“In 2012, Google, for example, generated a profit of nearly $14 billion while employing fewer than 38,000 people.9 Contrast that with the automotive industry. At peak employment in 1979, General Motors alone had nearly 840,000 workers but earned only about $11 billion—20 percent less than what Google raked in. And, yes, that’s after adjusting for inflation.” 6 likes
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