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Fear of Robots

July 11, 2006

Even though I entirely disagree with The Upcoming Robot Revolution, I really like it. It is a sort of unintended Bastiat satire for our time. Here we see the Luddite fear of technological innovation pushed to a reductio ad absurdum. I think it just makes it all the funnier that the author is entirely earnest and sincere in painting his dystopia where robots have taken away our jobs and much of the American population is being warehoused in "government welfare dormitories". Here is the comment I made on this story on Digg:

Economic ignorance abounds in this piece. There is not some fixed pie of jobs such that any innovation in efficiency removes jobs from the pie leaving less jobs for everyone. if this were the case then the improvements in farming that eliminated 90% of the population from farming jobs would have resulted in 90% of the population being unemployed. They're not. They found other things to do. Until humans run out of goods and services that they want there will always be work to do. Widespread use of robots would not make everyone unemployed, they would instead free up and empower human labor to take on new challenges.

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