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Monday, November 14, 2016

A Bright Robot Future Awaits, Once This Downer Election Is Over

By Andrew Mayeda
Originally published October 24, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

‘Singularity Is Near’

An hour’s drive away, in San Francisco, the influx of tech workers has helped push the median single-family home price to $1.26 million. Private buses carry them to jobs at Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, or Facebook. Meanwhile, one former mayor has proposed using a decommissioned aircraft carrier to house the city’s homeless, who throng the sidewalks along Market Street, home to Uber and Twitter Inc.

How much will the “second machine age” deepen such divisions? Last month, a trio of International Monetary Fund economists came up with some chilling answers. Even if humans retain their creative edge over robots, they found, it will likely take two decades before productivity gains outweigh the downward pressure on wages from automation; meanwhile, “inequality will be worse, possibly dramatically so.”

And if the robots become perfect substitutes, the paper envisages an extreme scenario in which labor becomes wholly redundant as “capital takes over the entire economy.” The IMF economists even invoke futurist Ray Kurzweil’s 2006 bestseller, “The Singularity Is Near.”

Silicon Valley executives say alarm bells have been ringing for decades about job-killing technology, and they’re usually false alarms.

The article is here.