Wednesday, October 20, 2021 11:01 pm

Humans need to take charge of their robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

By Steve LeVine | Axios

In 2013, two young Oxford University researchers ignited a provocative debate with a landmark forecast that 47% of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to automation. Since then, experts around the world have relentlessly argued whether the new age of robots will wipe out whole classes of jobs, or create a unique time of machine-human partnership.

Driving the news: Though few appear to have taken notice, leading researchers have reached important conclusions.

They include that:

Robots so far are destroying many more jobs than they are creating.

But it doesn’t have to be that way — if humans realize they are in charge, and take control of what the machines are generally aiming to do.

One way to understand is to look at the recent debate over globalization: Rather than scorched-earth trade, open borders could have been optimized to preserve the living standards of affected U.S. communities. Similarly, humans can decide what role machines will play in society.

“It is a matter of choice how much we get to invest in replacing workers and how much in complementing workers,” said Daron Acemoglu, an influential scholar on automation at MIT.


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