On ACM, Moshe Y. Vardi, professor of Computer Science, Rice University, notes that much like the industrial revolution, the advent of artificial intelligence and automation may be a similar tipping point, rendering all the productivity and profitability that has happened in the past look negligible compared to what is coming — but the cost may be just as high.
They are definitely right about the long period of painful adjustment! The aftermath of the Industrial Revolution involved two major Communist revolutions, whose death toll approaches 100 million. The stabilizing influence of the modern social welfare state emerged only after World War II, nearly 200 years on from the 18th-century beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.
Today, as globalization and automation dramatically boost corporate productivity, many workers have seen their wages stagnate. The increasing power of automation and artificial intelligence technology means more pain may follow. Are these economists minimizing the historical record when projecting the future, essentially telling us not to worry because in a century or two things will get better?
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