First, let’s set aside the historical understanding in economics that robots — and technology in general — don’t steal humans’ jobs. To the average reader this may seem like heresy, but the majority of economists hold that technology does not destroy jobs, it merely shifts laborers into better jobs. (Sewing machines may have drastically shrunk the number of seamsters and seamstresses, but those individuals are now free to become nurses and chefs.) To think that technology permanently destroys employment opportunity, as Bill Gates suggests here, actually has a name: The Luddite Fallacy, named for a group of textile workers in the 19th century who opposed weaving machinery. Now the term Luddite is colloquially used as anyone who opposes technological progress. Ironic, tha…
This is a specious argument. Many deep-thinking folks — including some economists — are concerned or convinced that AI poses a considerably different threat than the mechanical looms of early industrialism. It is unclear exactly what other jobs are likely to open up for those formerly bending metal in factories, delivering food to supermarkets, or providing financial advice once AIs do that for zero wages. You can’t dismiss this with a handwave and invoking the so-called ‘Luddite Fallacy’. It wasn’t a fallacy, and neither is what is happening to jobs in today’s economy. It’s real.
And, oh, by the way, all the retraining you talk about? It’s not happening.