Economist Predicts that Automation Won't Affect Us Too Much

Economist Predicts that Automation Won't Affect Us Too Much

By: Daniel Steingold | July 20, 2016

In an interview with Vox’s Timothy B. Lee, economist Robert Gordon expresses his belief that new technology— such as robots, smartphones, and artificial intelligence— won’t impact the economy as much as some have previously projected.

Instead, Gordon emphasizes another problem that will likely take hold— the continued stagnation of wages for the working-and middle-classes. Jobs won’t fade, according to Gordon, but bigger paychecks will likely be harder to come by.

Here are some other highlights of the interview:

  • While truck drivers could theoretically be replaced by self-driving vehicles, there would still be a need for people to take items out of the vehicle. Thus, according to Gordon, jobs will be replaced by other jobs, rather than altogether.
  • Self-driving cars may not take over for a long time, particularly due to price and current technology. For decades after they’re introduced, there will probably be a mix of autonomous and traditional vehicles.
  • Taxis will be later to the autonomous vehicle game than trucks.
  • Gordon sees productivity growth remaining fairly stagnant at around 1.2 percent.
  • Robots won’t be able to do many of the tasks that humans do, such as standing up without falling over, walking up and down stairs, and opening bottles.
  • One of the few industries where Gordon sees automation taking over in the near-term is in the fast food industry, where he expects more productive automated machinery to displace minimum wage jobs.

Vox’s full interview with Gordon can be read here.

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