A survey by researchers at Oxford and Yale universities indicates that by 2060, robots will be able to perform jobs better than people can. That means millions of people could eventually be out of work.
Automation has been part of our world for a long time. And in general, automation has led to new jobs – especially service jobs. Artificial intelligence is changing that. Because machines are learning how to think, they can eliminate jobs without creating new ones.
Douglas Rushkoff is a professor at the City University of New York and the author of books on the cultural impact of technology. In an interview, he said this is the outcome of movements that began generations ago.
"The object of the game since the beginning of the industrial age is to get humans out of the equation," he said. "This is where corporatism comes from, is the idea that this abstract entity is going to matter more than the humans."
Rushkoff said the prospect of having millions of people made jobless by artificial intelligence adds to the list of fears that rapid technological change might actually be harming people and the planet.
He also said he would like to ask companies like Amazon — and investors in tech — "whether they really believe they can somehow make enough money to insulate themselves from the problems they are creating throughout the world."
The next episode of Primed is about what Amazon’s warehouses can tell us about the future of everyone’s work.