The Conversation: The Industrial Revolution’s scary lesson for surviving the robot revolution

As automation and artificial intelligence technologies improve, many people worry about the future of work. If millions of human workers no longer have jobs, the worriers ask, what will people do, how will they provide for themselves and their families, and what changes might occur (or be needed) in order for society to adjust?

Many economists say there is no need to worry. They point to how past major transformations in work tasks and labor markets — specifically the Industrial Revolution during the 18th and 19th centuries — didn’t lead to major social upheaval or widespread suffering.

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