found that for most of the 20th century, the optimistic take on automation prevailed — on average, in industries that implemented automation, new tasks were created faster than old ones were destroyed.

rejected calls to fund federal worker retraining programs for years, and while some of the money in the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill Democrats hope to pass this week will go to laid-off and furloughed workers, none of it is specifically earmarked for job training programs that could help displaced workers get back on their feet.

Another key difference is that in the past, automation arrived gradually, factory machine by factory machine. But today’s white-collar automation is so sudden — and often, so deliberately obscured by management — that few workers have time to prepare.

“Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation,” from which this essay is adapted.

View Source