Rise of the Robots

Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

by Martin Ford

Number of pages: 368

Publisher: Basic Books

BBB Library: Technology and Globalization

ISBN: 978-0465097531

About the Author

Martin Ford is a prominent futurist, New York Times bestselling author, and leading expert on artificial intelligence and robotics and their potential impact on the job market, economy and society.


Editorial Review

One widely held belief that is certain to be challenged is the assumption that automation is primarily a threat to workers who have little education and lower-skill levels. That assumption emerges from the fact that such jobs tend to be routine and repetitive. Before you get too comfortable with that idea, however, consider just how fast the frontier is moving. At one time, a “routine” occupation would probably have implied standing on an assembly line. The reality today is far different. While lower-skill occupations will no doubt continue to be affected, a great many college-educated, white-collar workers are going to discover that their jobs, too, are squarely in the sights as software automation and predictive algorithms advance rapidly in capability.

Book Reviews

“A thorough look at how far machines have come” —Washington Post, Innovations Blog

“In Rise of the Robots, ford coolly and clearly considers what work is under threat from automation.”—New Scientist

" Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects not to mention those of their children, as well as for society as a whole." – Financial Times

"This is both a humbling book and, in the best sense, a humble one." – New York Times Book Review

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Wisdom to Share

If there is one myth regarding computer technology that ought to be swept into the dustbin it is the pervasive believe that computers can do only what they are specifically programmed to do.

Big data techniques are sure to result in important insights that will lead to improved outcomes over time.

Advancing information technology has a dark side of its own.

Big data is having a revolutionary impact in a wide range of areas including business, politics, medicine, and nearly every field of natural and social science.

Rapidly improving specialized robots or machine learning algorithms that churn through reams of data will eventually threaten enormous numbers of occupations at a wide range of skill levels.

One widely held belief that is certain to be challenged is the assumption that automation is primarily a threat to workers who have little education and lower-skill levels.

While industrial robots offer an unrivaled combination of speed, precision, and brute strength, they are, for the most part, blind actors in a tightly choreographed performance.

The history of computing shows pretty clearly that once a standard operating system becomes available, an explosion of application software is likely to follow.

Once one of the industry’s major players begins to gain significant advantages from increased automation, the others will have little choice but to follow suit.

The same innovations that are advancing the robotics frontier in factory and warehouse settings are finally making many of these remaining agricultural jobs susceptible to automation.

The unstructured nature of big data has led to the development of new tools specifically geared toward making sense of information that is collected from a variety of sources.

The big data revolution is likely to have two especially important implications for knowledge-based occupations.