One of our choices for your summer reading, Martin Ford's 'Rise of the Robots,' won the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award at a ceremony held last week in New York.
Ford received a $45,500 check and gave a brief acceptance talk at the event.
Media has been paying a lot of attention to the issue of automation replacing jobs while not creating enough new jobs. They are warning of an impending crisis. Ford's book contains sufficient forecast situations to cover almost every occupation, industry group and country.
The Financial Times wrote:
The book reflects growing anxiety in some quarters about the possible negative impact of automation on jobs, from manufacturing to professional services. The subtitle of its UK edition [cream colored] warns of “the threat of mass unemployment” and, in the US edition, foresees “a jobless future”.
Mr Ford, founder of a Silicon Valley software development company, suggests “a fundamental restructuring of our economic rules” may be needed to mitigate the impact of the advance of robotics and automation. He proposes a guaranteed minimum basic income — or “citizen’s dividend” — as one radical remedy.
Not all the judges agreed with the book’s proposed solutions but nobody questioned the force of its argument.
The book certainly provides fodder for the media's grist, and has debatable content to argue about with friends. If you can get through the whole book, it will leave you skeptical but more aware of the fact that automation is relentlessly changing the landscape of work and jobs.
“I'm not arguing that the technology is a bad thing,” Ford said. “It could be a great thing if the robots did all our jobs and we didn't have to work. The problem is that your job and income are packaged together. So if you lose your job, you also lose your income, and we don't have a very good system in place to deal with that.”
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