Automation and Mechanization

Via Vox and Ezra Klein interview:

“You’ve been criticizing Andrew Yang’s robot apocalypse theories recently. I think it’s intuitive to people that if we had more automation emerging that that would be bad for the economy and bad for jobs. But economists say the problem in the economy is that productivity growth has slowed down in recent decades, especially compared to what it was in the post-World War II era. And so if we were actually seeing what the dire robot people say we’re seeing, it would actually be good for the economy.”

“So is the problem that we have too many robots coming for our jobs or that we have too few?”

Paul Krugman

“We keep on hearing about how radical and impressive new technology is, but output per worker hour is growing very slowly. And automation is just a kind of mechanization that allows you to do more stuff with fewer workers. So I think what is actually happening is the kinds of technological change we’re seeing now are ones that are flashy and very visible to people like you and me, but the basic way we live our lives and do business haven’t changed all that much.”

“Now, there’s another question: Is [automation] good or bad for ordinary workers? And the answer is: it depends. Historically, there have been periods when, at least, significant groups of workers have definitely been hurt by automation. There have been other periods when the benefits of automation have been very broadly shared. But I think currently it’s a moot point because automation is not really happening at all. The idea that robots are taking away the jobs of lots of American workers just doesn’t seem to be true.”


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