A growing number of people are worried that robots — and other machines with artificial intelligence — will imminently steal so many jobs that it will lead to a future of pervasive unemployment. But even a cursory reading of history will show that we’ve been here before.
Consider a series of headlines pulled from just one newspaper, the New York Times, as an illustration: In 1928, the Times ran an article titled “March of the Machine Makes Idle Hands.” In 1956, it announced “Workers See ‘Robot Revolution’ Depriving Them of Jobs” (for an article about labor unrest in London). In 1980, the newspaper declared “A Robot Is After Your Job.” And in December 2017, a Times op-ed headline asked, “Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?” with the answer being an anxious “probably.”
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