Monday, September 2, 2013

Quote of the Day (Noah Smith, on Technology and Labor)

“What do we do if and when our old mechanisms for coping with inequality break down? If the ‘endowment of human capital’ with which people are born gets less and less valuable, we'll get closer and closer to that Econ 101 example of a world in which the capital owners get everything. A society with cheap robot labor would be an incredibly prosperous one, but we will need to find some way for the vast majority of human beings to share in that prosperity, or we risk the kinds of dystopian outcomes that now exist only in science fiction.”—Noah Smith, “The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots,” The Atlantic, January 2013

(The image accompanying this post is from, of course, Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s last embrace of silent film—a movie about the disruptive effects of new technology, made nine years after sound had rendered obsolete a whole style and generation of film personnel.)

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