Quintin Zimmermann's Reviews > Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford
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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 many widely known sites, such as Forbes, without any human input and to such success that the work product is indistinguishable from articles written by the real journalists.

Much like IBM's Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov, arguably the greatest chess player who has ever lived, IBM's Watson was created to destroy human contestants in Jeopardy! Following which, Watson was re-purposed and successfully deployed in other areas that previously remained the preserve of highly skilled professionals, such as the field of health care as a powerful diagnostic tool in hospitals.

Iamus is a computer cluster capable of composing complex pieces of contemporary classical music challenging the creative talents of performing musicians, again without human intervention.

Innovations like MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), automated grading algorithms and adoptive learning systems are potential future disrupters of the sacrosanct universities and other higher education institutions.

The bona fide future threat of technology and innovation is a paradox in that it has and will continue to improve production and efficiency in the economy, which in turn will result in massive job losses in many sectors, thereby resulting in diminishing demand and consumer spending, which leads right back to a plummet in production and the contraction in the economy - an interesting conundrum.

Martin Ford does not provide any real, tangible solutions, but then again, that was not the intention of the book as the title attests.
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Reading Progress

May 29, 2016 – Shelved
May 29, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 8, 2017 – Started Reading
August 8, 2017 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim Did he mention that this fear has repeatedly been voiced throughout history for most great inventions & yet has also wound up doing the exact opposite for most of humanity? Yes, some specific jobs are lost, but overall more others are gained. This happened with the printing press, the industrialization of the 18th & 19th centuries (Luddites), movies, radio, TV, LPs, VCR, etc.


Quintin Zimmermann A very valid point, Jim. No, he did not really address the historical issues, and more significantly, considering the past, distinguish why it may be different this time.

My impression is that the author slanted his writing for the shock value and did not equitably deal with the flip side, such as the creation of completely new jobs in the future that don't yet exist.

Martin Ford may very well be right and he does raise valid and chilling concerns, but he could have presented a far more balanced perspective.


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