Science and Tech
Article: ""Remember the mane"
> Looking at how the rise of robots and their impact on low-skilled workers can be analogous to the rise of the automobile and its impact on horses. A new working paper concludes that, between 1990 and 2007, each industrial robot added per thousand workers reduced employment in America by nearly six workers. The International Federation of Robotics defines industrial robots as machines that are automatically controlled and re-programmable; single-purpose equipment does not count. The worldwide population of such creatures is below 2m; America has slightly fewer than two robots per 1,000 workers. The paper’s authors, Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University, are careful to exclude confounding causes as best they can. Since relatively few industrial robots are in use in the American economy, the total job loss from robotisation has been modest: between 360,000 and 670,000.
> Automation should yield savings to firms or consumers which can be spent on other goods or services. Labour liberated by technology should gravitate toward tasks and jobs in which humans retain an advantage. Yet that should also have been true of horses. The difficulty facing horses was in reallocating the huge numbers displaced by technology to places where they could still be of use.