Will robots take over your job?

Published on May 28, 2015

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future’ author Martin Ford on which jobs robots are taking over and how the U.S. military is using drone technology.
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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: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. 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.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren’t going to work, and 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 for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects—not to mention those of their children—as well as for society as a whole.

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

“Mr. Ford lucidly sets out myriad examples of how focused applications of versatile machines (coupled with human helpers where necessary) could displace or de-skill many jobs… His answer to a sharp decline in employment is a guaranteed basic income, a safety net that he suggests would both cushion the effect on the newly unemployable and encourage entrepreneurship among those creative enough to make a new way for themselves. This is a drastic prescription for the ills of modern industrialization—ills whose severity and very existence are hotly contested. Rise of the Robots provides a compelling case that they are real, even if its more dire predictions are harder to accept.”
Wall Street Journal

“Well-researched and disturbingly persuasive.”
Financial Times

“[Rise of the Robots is]about as scary as the title suggests. It’s not science fiction, but rather a vision (almost) of economic Armageddon.”
—Frank Bruni, New York Times

“As Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots, the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated…the human consequences of robotization are already upon us, and skillfully chronicled here.”
New York Times Book Review

“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

“Of all the moderns who have written on automation and rising joblessness, Martin Ford is the original. His Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future is due out this May…. Self-recommending.”
Marginal Revolution

“It’s not easy to accept, but it’s true. Education and hard work will no longer guarantee success for huge numbers of people as technology advances. The time for denial is over. Now it’s time to consider solutions and there are very few proposals on the table. Rise of the Robots presents one idea, the basic income model, with clarity and force. No one who cares about the future of human dignity can afford to skip this book.”
—Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future?

“Ever since the Luddites, pessimists have believed that technology would destroy jobs. So far they have been wrong. Martin Ford shows with great clarity why today’s automated technology will be much more destructive of jobs than previous technological innovation. This is a book that everyone concerned with the future of work must read.”
—Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, co-author of How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life and author of the three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes

“Martin Ford has thrust himself into the center of the debate over AI, big data, and the future of the economy with a shrewd look at the forces shaping our lives and work. As an entrepreneur pioneering many of the trends he uncovers, he speaks with special credibility, insight, and verve. Business people, policy makers, and professionals of all sorts should read this book right away—before the ‘bots steal their jobs. Ford gives us a roadmap to the future.”
—Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor for the Economist and co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

“If the robots are coming for my job (too), then Martin Ford is the person I want on my side, not to fend them off but to construct a better world where we can all—humans and our machines—live more prosperously together. Rise of the Robots goes far beyond the usual fear-mongering punditry to suggest an action plan for a better future.”
—Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, The Futures Initiative, The Graduate Center, CUNY and author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn

“Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots is a very important, timely, and well-informed book. Smart machines, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and the “Internet of things” are transforming every sector of the economy. Machines can outperform workers in a rapidly widening arc of activities. Will smart machines lead to a world of plenty, leisure, health care, and education for all; or to a world of inequality, mass unemployment, and a war between the haves and have-nots, and between the machines and the workers left behind? Ford doesn’t claim to have all of the answers, but he asks the right questions and offers a highly informed and panoramic view of the debate. This is an excellent book that offers us a sophisticated glimpse into our possible futures.”
—Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University and author of The Age of Sustainable Development

About the Author

Martin Ford, the founder of a Silicon Valley–based software development firm, has over twenty-five years of experience in computer design and software development. The author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future, he lives in Sunnyvale, California.
@MFordFuture

Will robots take over your job?