With every technological advancement since the dawn of time, conventional wisdom has warned that technology and automation kills jobs. But robots aren’t the root cause of our problems. Although technology has always changed the nature of work, this week’s guests Heidi Shierholz and Daron Acemoglu argue that there is no evidence that it has led or will lead to overall increased joblessness, unemployment, or wage stagnation.nHeidi Shierholz is a Senior Economist and the Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute. She was a Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under President Obama from 2014 to 2017. Her research and insights on labor and employment policy, the effects of automation on the labor market, wage stagnation, inequality, and many other topics routinely shape policy proposals and inform economic news coverage. nTwitter: @hshierholznDaron Acemoglu is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the co-author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book ‘Why Nations Fail’, with James A. Robinson. In 2005, he received the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to economists under forty judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. nTwitter: @DrDaronAcemoglunFurther reading: nThe zombie robot argument lurches on (EPI): https://www.epi.org/publication/the-zombie-robot-argument-lurches-on-there-is-no-evidence-that-automation-leads-to-joblessness-or-inequality/nHow robots became a scapegoat for the destruction of the working class (The Week): https://theweek.com/articles/837759/how-robots-became-scapegoat-destruction-working-classnAutomation, Job Loss, and the Welfare State (Council on Foreign Relations): https://www.cfr.org/event/automation-job-loss-and-welfare-statenRobots, or automation, are not the problem (EPI): https://www.epi.org/publication/robots-or-automation-are-not-the-problem-too-little-worker-power-is/nRobots kill jobs. But they create jobs, too. (Brookings): https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2019/03/18/robots-kill-jobs-but-they-create-jobs-too/nWhere Do Good Jobs Come From? (Project Syndicate): https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/automation-vs-job-creation-by-daron-acemoglu-2019-04?barrier=accesspaylognThe Revolution Need Not Be Automated (Project Syndicate): https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ai-automation-labor-productivity-by-daron-acemoglu-and-pascual-restrepo-2019-03?barrier=accesspaylog
New technologies are sold as a net benefit to society as a whole, but the truth is that technological progress is only loosely correlated to the improved welfare of the majority of citizens. This is not to say that technology and innovation are bad—we’re big supporters of both—but when tech CEOs hold all the power to make decisions that affect all of us, that becomes a problem. For a long time, technology has been used by the rich and powerful to further enrich themselves and consolidate their own power. Is there a way to ensure that everyone benefits from innovation—not just the wealthy few? Returning guest Daron Acemoglu shares insight from his new book on the subject, Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity.