Martin Ford is a futurist and the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm. He has over 25 years experience in the fields of computer design and software development. He holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a graduate business degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Martin is an expert on the subject of accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence—and what these advances mean for the economy, job market and society of the future.

Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future

Martin Ford – Rise Of The Robots

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Five Good Questions:

  1. The decimation of the value of human labor due to technology has been proclaimed and proven wrong for time immemorial.  Humans have always found new ways to contribute and avoid obsolescence, transitioning from hunter gatherers to farmers to manufacturing workers to service providers.  Why is this time different?
  2. Why are white collar jobs the most at risk?  Are there any industries that may be a last stand for human labor?
  3. What are the investment implications of a world where robots allow for most of the gains to flow through to capital owners and there’s nothing left for labor?  Are we heading toward a type of technofeudalism?
  4. I lean libertarian in my views, but you convincingly advocate for a basic guaranteed income, which sounds very socialist on the surface.  I was surprised to see Friedrich Hayek was also a strong proponent.  Can you explain your reasoning, especially in the context as a technological dividend for society?
  5. In your view, does the singularity look more like the movie Wall-E where humans become feeble and are cared for by benevolent robots, or more like The Matrix where the robots eventually want to enslave us to protect themselves from humans pulling the plug?  Or maybe a third option?

Martin Ford - Rise Of The Robots

Rise Of The Robots – Description

Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future by Basic Books

What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries—education and health care—that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren’t going to work. We must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading to understand what accelerating technology means for our economic prospects—not to mention those of our children—as well as for society as a whole.

Rise Of The Robots – Reviews

“For nonfiction, I tip my hat to Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots, which is vacuuming up accolades and is recommended reading for IIF staff. Ford’s analysis, in a somewhat crowded field of similar books, offers a sobering assessment of how technology (robotics, machine learning, AI, etc.) is reshaping labor markets, the composition of growth, and the distribution of income and wealth, and calls for enlightened political and policy leadership to address coming, accelerating disruptions and dislocations.” – Bloomberg Business, Timothy Adams

““We are in an era of technological optimism but sociological pessimism. Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots captures why these shifts are related and what challenges this might pose to our conventional economic and social infrastructures.” – Bloomberg Business, Andy Haldane

“Compelling and well-written… In his conception, the answer is a combination of short-term policies and longer-term initiatives, one of which is a radical idea that may gain some purchase among gloomier techno-profits: a guaranteed income for all citizens. If that stirs up controversy, that’s the point. The book is both lucid and bold, and certainly a starting point for robust debate about the future of all workers in an age of advancing robotics and looming artificial intelligence systems.” – ZDNet

“An alarming new book.” – Esquire

“A thorough look at how far machines have come” – Washington Post, Innovations blog

“Ford offers ideas on changes in social policies, including guaranteed income, to keep our economy humming and prepare ourselves for a more automated future.” – Booklist

“A careful and courageous examination of automation and its possible impact on society.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In Rise of the Robots, Ford coolly and clearly considers what work is under threat from automation.” – New Scientist

“Makes clear the need to come to grips with ever more rapidly advancing technology and its effects on how people make a living and how the economy functions.” – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review