Summary of What Happens if Robots Take the Jobs?

The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Employment and Public Policy

Brookings Institution,

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What Happens if Robots Take the Jobs? summary
As technology reshapes the modern workforce, a guaranteed basic income would mitigate social unrest, encourage education and support the arts.


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Political scientist Darrell M. West envisions a future in which everyone receives a basic income, regardless of their education, profession or employment status. He argues that a basic income will mitigate the social unrest that comes with the widening income gap. Furthermore, West believes the arts will flourish, people will have time to volunteer and education will become a lifelong pursuit. getAbstract recommends this thought-provoking article to policy makers, visionaries and anyone who’s been brought low by the bitter sting of unemployment.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How technology is making unskilled workers superfluous,
  • Which jobs are likely to be safe from automation and
  • How policy makers can prepare for the new reality.


Income, health care and pensions are all vital social benefits that Americans typically receive from their employers, usually when performing full-time work. Today, however, technology is completely reshaping the traditional structure of employment. Large businesses already run smoothly with smaller workforces. For example, in AT&T’s “heyday” in the 1960s, it employed ten times the number of people who worked at Google in 2015 . Gone are the days when someone armed only with “ordinary” skills and a desire to work could comfortably support a family. As technology continues to improve flawed human senses, dubious decision-making abilities and shaky motor control, only people with special skills and the right education will be able to find employment.

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About the Author

Darrell M. West is the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

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