Aug 152014

CGP Grey has posted a 15 minute video which gives an excellent overview of current and future automation, and the potentially brutal disruption it will have to on our societies. Technological Unemployment is not a new concept, but the prospect of blue and white collar worker replacement is becoming more real:

The Economist also has a good take on the topic as well: The onrushing wave – Previous technological innovation has always delivered more long-run employment, not less. But things can change..

… technical change is increasingly taking the form of “capital that effectively substitutes for labour”. There may be a lot more for such capital to do in the near future. A 2013 paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, of the University of Oxford, argued that jobs are at high risk of being automated in 47% of the occupational categories into which work is customarily sorted. That includes accountancy, legal work, technical writing and a lot of other white-collar occupations.

Answering the question of whether such automation could lead to prolonged pain for workers means taking a close look at past experience, theory and technological trends. The picture suggested by this evidence is a complex one. It is also more worrying than many economists and politicians have been prepared to admit.