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Robert J. Samuelson: Why Robots Won't Steal All Our Jobs

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12.07.2017

WASHINGTON — Don't worry, the robots won't destroy all our jobs. History suggests just the opposite — that new technologies inspire new jobs. So concludes a study from leading labor economists. It's a useful antidote to widespread fears that robots and "artificial intelligence" will displace millions of workers and lead to permanently high joblessness.

No doubt, the anxiety is real. Despite a low unemployment rate, 4.4% in June, roughly a quarter of Americans (26%) think their present job will be eliminated by new technologies within the next two decades, according to a recent Gallup poll. Half those jobs supposedly would vanish within five years. The Gallup report mentioned truck drivers (vulnerable to self-driving trucks), taxi drivers (already threatened by Uber) and surgeons (facing robotic operating machines).

The new study doesn't deny that jobs will be lost. But that's not the end of the story, say David Autor, a well-known labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his........

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