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Should We Change the Name 'Labor Day' to 'Robot Day'?

Happy Labor Day!

Here's the question of the day, on this Labor Day weekend: Will a robotic economy do away with human work?

That's what Barron's suggests in its pay-walled editorial commentary: The End of Labor?

The message is clear, although it's delivered by a voice that sounds almost as mechanical as the process it describes: "Automation is inevitable. It's a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply."

That's the only clip non-subscribers see.

Reader John pinged me with this inside quote "America will have to change the name of Labor Day to Robot Day -- at least until artificial intelligence catches up, and robots become citizens."


Doom for Workers?

PBS NewsHour asks Do labor-saving robots spell doom for American workers?

The onslaught of automation that's replacing human workers -- from golf caddies to bank tellers -- may be putting us on a path to humanitarian crisis, says Jerry Kaplan, author of "Humans Need Not Apply." As technology grows and jobs become obsolete, income inequality and poverty could follow for millions of Americans. Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.


My Take

Automation has always been with us. We went from horses to cars. Candles to electricity. Phone operators to wireless.

Jobs never vanished. And standards of living rose every step of the way.

Is it different now? If so, why?

 

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