The New Luddites are back, and they’re packing heat. The mighty Economist writes of “the disturbing thought” that “America’s current employment woes stem from a precipitous and permanent change caused by not too little technological progress, but too much … A tipping point seems to have been reached, at which AI-based automation threatens to supplant the brain-power of large swathes of middle-income employees.” The New York Times chimes in: “technology is quickly taking over service jobs, following the waves of automation of farm and factory work.”
At which those of us lucky enough to be software engineers burst into derisive laughter, of course. We’ve heard all this before, more than a decade ago, when ‘outsourcing to India’ rather than ‘automation’ was the threat that would destroy our jobs. Obviously this is more of the same kind of nonsense. Right?
…Although, now that you mention it, there is something odd going on. America, Europe, and Japan all seem to be lurching from crisis to crisis without respite; most of the developed world is struggling with debilitating levels of unemployment; but at the same time, the tech world is booming like it’s 1999. Doesn’t that seem kind of weird?