Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Paperback)
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The New York Times-bestselling guide to how automation is changing the economy, undermining work, and reshaping our lives
Winner of Best Business Book of the Year awards from the Financial Times and from Forbes
"Lucid, comprehensive, and unafraid . . . ;an indispensable contribution to a long-running argument." -- Los Angeles Times
What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making "good jobs" obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working -- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries-education and health care-that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.
The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren't going to work. We must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading to understand what accelerating technology means for our economic prospects-not to mention those of our children-as well as for society as a whole.
About the Author
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. The author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future, he lives in Sunnyvale, California.
"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
"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."—Wall Street Journal
"Surveying all the fields now being affected by automation, Ford makes a compelling case that this is an historic disruption--a fundamental shift from most tasks being performed by humans to one where most tasks are done by machines."—Fast Company
"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
"An alarming new book."—Esquire
"[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
"Makes clear the need to come to grips with ever more rapidly advancing technology and its effects on how people make a living and how the economy functions."—Pittsburgh Tribune-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
"I tip my hat to Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots, which is vacuuming up accolades and is recommended reading for IIF staff. Ford's analysis, in a somewhat crowded field of similar books, offers a sobering assessment of how technology (robotics, machine learning, AI, etc.) is reshaping labor markets, the composition of growth, and the distribution of income and wealth, and calls for enlightened political and policy leadership to address coming, accelerating disruptions and dislocations."—Timothy Adam, Bloomberg Business
"Few captured the mood as well as Martin Ford in Rise of the Robots, the winner of the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, which painted a bleak picture of the upheavals that would come as ever-greater numbers of even highly skilled workers were displaced by machines."—Financial Times
"We are in an era of technological optimism but sociological pessimism. Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots captures why these shifts are related and what challenges this might pose to our conventional economic and social infrastructures."—Andy Haldane, Bloomberg Business
"Robots, and their like, are on the rise. Their impact will be an important question in the next decade and beyond. Martin Ford has been thinking in this area before most others, so this book deserves very careful consideration."—Lawrence Summers, President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University
"Whether you agree or not with the policy prescriptions put forward by [Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots and Anne-Marie Slaughter's Unfinished Business] these two well-written books, and quite a few will likely disagree, they are important reads for those wishing to better understand and influence the future."—Bloomberg Business, Mohamed El-Erian
"A thorough look at how far machines have come"—Washington Post, Innovations blog
"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
"Ever since the Luddites, pessimists have believed that technology would destroy jobs. So far they have been wrong. Martin Ford shows with great clarity why today's automated technology will be much more destructive of jobs than previous technological innovation. This is a book that everyone concerned with the future of work must read."—Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, co-author of How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life and author of the three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes
"Martin Ford has thrust himself into the center of the debate over AI, big data, and the future of the economy with a shrewd look at the forces shaping our lives and work. As an entrepreneur pioneering many of the trends he uncovers, he 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. Ford gives us a roadmap to the future."—Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor for the Economist and co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
"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?
"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
"[A] breathtaking new book on modern economics."—Forbes.com
"[Ford's] a careful and thoughtful writer who relies on ample evidence, clear reasoning, and lucid economic analysis. In other words, it's entirely possible that he's right."—Daily Beast
"Rise of the Robots is an excellent book. Fair-minded, balanced, well-researched, and fully thought through."—Inside Higher Ed, Learn blog
"In Rise of the Robots, Ford coolly and clearly considers what work is under threat from automation."—New Scientist
"If The Second Machine Age was last year's tech-economy title of choice, this book may be 2015's equivalent."—Financial Times, Summer books 2015, Business, Andrew Hill
"Well written with interesting stories about both business and technology."—Wired/Dot Physics