We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

July 21, 2014

In The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate with futurist Ray Kurzweil about the jobless future.

In his debate with me, Kurzweil said: “Automation always eliminates more jobs than it creates if you only look at the circumstances narrowly surrounding the automation. That’s what the Luddites saw in the early 19th century in the textile industry in England. The new jobs came from increased prosperity and new industries that were not seen.”

Kurzweil’s key argument was that just as we could not predict the types of jobs that were created, we can’t predict what is to come. Kurzweil is right, but the problem is that no matter what the jobs of the future are, they will surely require greater skill and education. Robots can do all the grunt work. […]