In his book Rise of the Robots (winner of the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award), Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford looks at the impact on labor of robotisation and automation. They have made production so efficient that companies can now produce vast quantities of goods virtually without the help of human labor.
That has happened before, but this time is different, says Ford: in the age of machine learning, everyone from janitors to surgeons, factory workers to lawyers are susceptible. Since 2000, for example, the number of financial workers on Wall Street has fallen by around a third as high-frequency trading programs complete 100,000 transactions in a 10th of seconds. Ford is convinced that this is the end of work as we know it.
What does this mean for our future? For the nature of work, for society, our economy? Will innovation in technology once again create new industries and new jobs after all? If there are no jobs, will there still be consumers? By skewing the gains of the new economy to the happy few, robots weaken the chief engine of growth — middle-class demand. So is minimum basic income the smartest solution?
Martin Ford was joined by Wouter van Bergen, financial reporter at the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and author of the recent book De robots komen eraan!
This event was sponsored by Aegon, Getronics and Spaces.