Rise of the Robots - Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment
Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making 'good jobs' obsolete: many paralegals, doctors, and ironically even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer jobs will be necessary. In terms of societal and economic upheaval, this is most important technological shift since the industrial revolution. And, unless we radically reassess the fundamentals of how our economy and politics work, we risk a future of massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the economy itself. In Rise of the Robots, Martin Ford offers both an exploration of this new technology and a call to arms to face its implications. Ford's warning rings clearly: robots are coming, and we must decide - now - whether the future will see prosperity or catastrophe.
"Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots is a very important, timely, and well-informed book. Smart machines, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and the 'Internet of things' are transforming every sector of the economy. Machines can outperform workers in a rapidly widening arc of activities. Will smart machines lead to a world of plenty, leisure, health care, and education for all; or to a world of inequality, mass unemployment, and a war between the haves and have-nots, and between the machines and the workers left behind? Ford doesn't claim to have all of the answers, but he asks the right questions and offers a highly informed and panoramic view of the debate. This is an excellent book that offers us a sophisticated glimpse into our possible futures." -- Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University and author of The Age of Sustainable Development "It's not easy to accept, but it's true. Education and hard work will no longer guarantee success for huge numbers of people as technology advances. The time for denial is over. Now it's time to consider solutions and there are very few proposals on the table. Rise of the Robots presents one idea, the basic income model, with clarity and force. No one who cares about the future of human dignity can afford to skip this book." -- Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future? "Speaks with special credibility, insight, and verve. Business people, policy makers, and professionals of all sorts should read this book right away-before the 'bots steal their jobs." -- Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor for the Economist "Everyone concerned with the future of work must read this book." -- Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick "If the robots are coming for my job (too), then Martin Ford is the person I want on my side, not to fend them off but to construct a better world where we can all-humans and our machines-live more prosperously together. Rise of the Robots goes far beyond the usual fear-mongering punditry to suggest an action plan for a better future." -- Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, The Futures Initiative, The Graduate Center, CUNY and author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn "Ford offers ideas on changes in social policies, including guaranteed income, to keep our economy humming and prepare ourselves for a more automated future." Booklist "A careful and courageous examination of automation and its possible impact on society." Kirkus Reviews "In Rise of the Robots, Ford coolly and clearly considers what work is under threat from automation." New Scientist "Of all the moderns who have written on automation and rising joblessness, Martin Ford is the original. The Rise of the Robots is self-recommending." Marginal Revolution "Well researched and disturbingly persuasive." Financial Times "An alarming new book." Esquire "A fascinating journey into the near future world of unemployment. Ford issues a stark warning that automation in the form of robotics is moving beyond the menial jobs to put the rest of us out of work. Read it now before it is too late." -- Noel Sharkey, Emeritus Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, University of Sheffield "[The Rise of the Robots is] about as scary as the title suggests. It's not science fiction, but rather a vision (almost) of economic Armageddon." -- Frank Bruni, New York Times "As Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots, the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated...the human consequences of robotization are already upon us, and skillfully chronicled here." New York Times Book Review "Compelling and well-written... In his conception, the answer is a combination of short-term policies and longer-term initiatives, one of which is a radical idea that may gain some purchase among gloomier techno-profits: a guaranteed income for all citizens. If that stirs up controversy, that's the point. The book is both lucid and bold, and certainly a starting point for robust debate about the future of all workers in an age of advancing robotics and looming artificial intelligence systems." ZDNet "Lucid, comprehensive and unafraid to grapple fairly with those who dispute Ford's basic thesis, Rise of the Robots is an indispensable contribution to a long-running argument." Los Angeles Times "Mr. Ford lucidly sets out myriad examples of how focused applications of versatile machines (coupled with human helpers where necessary) could displace or de-skill many jobs... His answer to a sharp decline in employment is a guaranteed basic income, a safety net that he suggests would both cushion the effect on the newly unemployable and encourage entrepreneurship among those creative enough to make a new way for themselves. This is a drastic prescription for the ills of modern industrialization-ills whose severity and very existence are hotly contested. Rise of the Robots provides a compelling case that they are real, even if its more dire predictions are harder to accept." Wall Street Journal "Finally someone is addressing this important topic that has both a grasp on the economic issues and a grounded understanding of what AI and robotics technology is really capable of now and in the near future. This is combined with a clarity of explanation that can help anyone understand the significant societal changes that will soon be upon us." -- Dr. Nick Hawes, Reader in Autonomous Intelligent Robotics, University of Birmingham 'The real existential threat of AI is not biological extinction but philosophical identity, as even (or perhaps especially) humanity's greatest thinkers have to come to terms with the fact that their abilities can be not only understood, but replicated in machines. Martin Ford addresses this new reality with exceptional insight and clarity. He doesn't shy away from recognizing the many positive outcomes of intelligent technology, while exposing the negative consequences of the very real impacts our society is already experiencing.' -- Dr Joanna Bryson, Department of Computer Science, University of Bath
Martin Ford, the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm, has over twenty-five years of experience in computer design and software development. He was the first modern writer to raise the issue of technology-led unemployment. He lives in Sunnyvale, California and tweets at @MFordFuture.