Can the hottest robot benefit the poor

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Can robots benefit the poor

in 1955, Walter Reuther, chairman of the American automobile Union, talked about his experience of visiting Ford's newly opened automatic chemical plant. The host pointed to the rows of robots and asked him: how do you collect dues from these guys? Luther replied: how can you make them buy a Ford? Nowadays, automation is not new, and the debate about its impact has been going on for a long time. So how will this question and answer be rewritten in Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee's "the second machine age"

in my last article, BASF Group high performance materials division proposed a new trend, which has elaborated the core argument. I pointed out in the article that with the rise of information technology, the income gap is also widening. Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington questioned the view that information technology is the main cause of the widening income gap. Michel pointed out that the rising salary of management, the expansion of the financial industry and the rise of industry salary accounted for two-thirds of the new income of the elite. The change of social rules, the improvement of stock returns, and the extreme expansion of the financial industry have all played a role. Although technology is a major factor in the formation of the current economic phenomenon, it is not a decisive factor

but technology does play a more important role. Professor brinjolsson and Mr. McAfee believe that technology will make us richer; Moreover, opportunities will be redistributed among workers and between workers and management

the impact of new technologies on the economy is multifaceted and complex. It includes: new services, such as Facebook; The disintermediation of the old sales system, such as the emergence of iTunes or Amazon; New products, such as intelligence; There are also new machines, such as robots. The last one awakened people's fear that intelligent machines would make a large number of human beings redundant. Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University recently published a paper, concluding that 47% of jobs in the United States face high risks of automation. The two authors believe that machines replaced artisans in the 19th century, benefiting unskilled workers. In the 20th century, computers replaced middle-income jobs and formed a polarized job market. However, in the coming decades, most of the workers in the transportation and logistics industry, along with the logistics personnel in the office and administrative departments, as well as the workers engaged in production work, are likely to be replaced by computer capital. Moreover, in the near future, low skilled and low paid jobs will bear the brunt of computerization. Highly skilled and highly paid occupations are relatively unlikely to be replaced by computer capital. Undoubtedly, this will aggravate income inequality

Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University also believe that the improvement of productivity may make the situation of future generations worse on the whole. Workers are replaced by robots, and they have a variety of machines for you to choose from! The income will also be transferred to the owners of robots. Most of these workers will be retired, and their savings must be less than that of young people. Investment in human capital will be reduced, because young people can no longer afford the relevant costs; Investment in machinery will also be reduced, as will the size of savings in the entire economy

the idea that the improvement of potential productivity will make human life worse and worse, if not impossible, is really unique. At least in my opinion, other possibilities seem more reasonable: as workers are laid off, there may be a huge adjustment shock; The market level of unskilled workers' wages may be much lower than the socially acceptable minimum; Finally, with the emergence of other emerging technologies, robots may make income distribution more unfair than it is now

so, what should we do

first of all, new technologies will have both good and bad effects. We can develop for the good and try to control the bad

Secondly, education is not a magic wand. One reason is that we cannot predict which skills will meet the needs in 30 years. And if Frey and Osborne are right, many low - and middle-level jobs are already at risk. It may be too late for people over the age of 18 and many children to learn new skills. Finally, even if the demand for innovative, entrepreneurial and high-level knowledge services increases on the necessary scale (very unlikely), it is tantamount to daydreaming to make everyone become the lucky few

third, we must reconsider leisure life. For a long time, the top rich people in the world have lived a leisurely life, and the working people have to pay for it. The rise of intelligent machines may enable more and more people to enjoy this life without exploiting others. Puritanism, which has won victory today, opposes ease. Well, let people enjoy life busily. Isn't that the real goal of vigorously promoting social prosperity

fourth, we will need to redistribute income and wealth. As for the form of redistribution, we can comprehensively consider the basic income of each adult, as well as education funds and training costs at all stages of life. In this way, it is possible for people to live a happier life. Fiscal revenue can come from the taxation of bad industries (such as pollution) and rents (including land, especially intellectual property rights). Property right is a concept of social creation. The view that most of the benefits of new technology should belong to a very small number of people should be reconsidered. For example, when protecting intellectual property rights, the state may wish to automatically allocate a certain proportion of relevant income

finally, if the trend of laid-off workers has indeed accelerated, it is necessary to ensure that the expansion of demand and the potential increase of supply will occur simultaneously. If we succeed, many worries about the shortage of jobs will disappear. But given our inability to improve unemployment over the past seven years, this beautiful vision may not be realized. But as long as we are willing, we can do better

the rise of intelligent machines is of historic significance. It will change many things, including our economy. But its potential role is clear: it will make it possible for mankind to live a better life. Whether this goal can be achieved depends on how the benefits it brings will be generated and distributed. In the end, a few people may become big winners, while most people become losers. But this is only a possible result, not an unchangeable fate. Techno feudalism is meaningless. Most importantly, it is not the technology itself that determines the outcome, but the economic and political system. If the existing economic and political system cannot bring the results we want, we must carry out reform

translator/Qu Wenwen

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