Don’t fight robots, become one

Roger Highfield on how technology is threatening our livelihoods.

The World Today
Published 11 February 2020 Updated 28 September 2020 3 minute READ

Roger Highfield

Science Director, Science Museum Group

A few years ago, I found myself talking about the impact of robots on tomorrow’s workplace at a House of Commons event organized by the union Prospect. Illustrated with gloomy newspaper headlines that stretched back decades, and drawing on research we had done for a Science Museum exhibition, my message was one of hope: yes, the robots are coming, but that doesn’t mean the end of work, just different kinds of work.

I have been shaken out of my complacency by reading Daniel Susskind’s A World Without Work, a scholarly yet approachable meditation on the implications of what John Maynard Keynes nine decades ago called ‘technological unemployment’.

Susskind, an economist, Oxford academic and former Downing Street adviser, predicts that human beings will be confined to an evershrinking puddle of activities.

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