Will Robots Take Our Jobs?

A new police drama imagines a world where AI surpasses human intelligence:

Kevin Drum’s new article argues that this kind of technology might not be science fiction much longer. He thinks this will be beneficial in the long-term but worries that such advances will hugely disrupt the labor markets in the short-term:

Unlike humans, an intelligent machine does whatever you want it to do, for as long as you want it to. You want to gossip? It’ll gossip. You want to complain for hours on end about how your children never call? No problem. And as the technology of robotics advances—the Pentagon has developed a fully functional robotic arm that can be controlled by a human mind—they’ll be able to perform ordinary human physical tasks too. They’ll clean the floor, do your nails, diagnose your ailments, and cook your food.

Increasingly, then, robots will take over more and more jobs. And guess who will own all these robots? People with money, of course. As this happens, capital will become ever more powerful and labor will become ever more worthless. Those without money—most of us—will live on whatever crumbs the owners of capital allow us.

In an interview, Drum speculates about what will happen next:

Societies that suffer from mass unemployment, the history of what happens to those societies is not a bright one. At some point you have to respond, and there’s going to be a lot of resistance to responding because of ideology, because of politics, because of pure greed, but eventually we are going to respond to this. It’s going to be obvious what’s happening, that people are unemployed due to no fault of their own, and that we have to respond.

In the meantime, we’re going to resist responding, and we’re probably going to resist responding very very strongly, because rich people don’t like giving up their money. We’re in for a few decades of a really grim fight between the poor, who are losing jobs, and the rich, who don’t want to give up their riches.

Yglesias and Karl Smith chip in their two cents on the subject. Previous Dish on the subject here.