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PBS News Hour: Are we on the brink of a jobless future?


Futurologists have been predicting the automation armageddon—robots replacing human workers—for decades. Now, it has finally arrived. “We live in the most amazing period in history,” says Silicon Valley author Vivek Wadhwa in an interview by PBS economics correspondent Paul Solman. “We can have unlimited energy, unlimited food, provide education for everyone, clean water—all the things that have held mankind back.” But, adds Wadhwa, “I see millions of jobs in every industry being wiped out.”

Wadhwa believes this transformation is going to happen faster than we think. “Almost every occupation I look at where you require human labor or you require intelligence, I see computers being able to do better than us within the next 10 years. There will be a mass replacement of humans with artificial intelligence and robots.”

Oxford’s Carl Frey points out that, since the 1980s, quite a few workers have had a bad experience from automation. He says, “I think that is what is determining much of the resurgence in populism that we see now.”