Summary of Capitalism in the Age of Robots

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As machines take on more and more jobs, what will be the impacts on workers and economies? Public policy expert Adair Turner’s incisive look at the future of employment paints a picture of rising income and wealth inequality, as automation shoulders much of human work, particularly manual labor. But no profession will go unscathed, as high-skill occupations could see job losses as well. In fact, the way economies measure progress and welfare will have to change. This analytical and multifaceted text will intrigue futurists of all stripes.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What to expect as machines take on more and more jobs, 
  • Why rising automation will not necessarily mean greater productivity, and
  • How policy makers can respond to the challenges of highly automated labor. 
 

About the Author

Adair Turner, chair of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, led the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority from 2008 to 2013.

 

Summary

Technology and artificial intelligence are leading to rising levels of automated work. Although labor that is completely automated is still about 50 to 100 years in the future, the world is already beginning to feel the impact. One aspect of advancing automation and machine learning is their effect on the rate of productivity growth, which will decelerate as technology progresses. Total productivity could decline, even as it increases for individual processes, because workers displaced by automation will likely take up an increasing number of “low productivity jobs” as well as “higher value jobs” that don’t contribute to productivity growth. Inexpensive software reproduction means that some products and services will be available at low or no cost, and the output they generate may not show up in productivity statistics.


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