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Arts for Action's Sake

The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming

Knowing my concerns about the danger of robots making the already corrosive economic inequality in our country even worse, a friend and former colleague of mine passed on a blog post that is a must read: The Real Story of Automation Beginning With One Simple Chart by Scott Santens. The one simple chart shows that when the number of oil rigs began to rebound after the 2016 decline in oil prices, the number of oil and gas industry employees didn't budge. The reason? Robotic "Iron Roughnecks" now perform the repetitive task of connecting drill pipe segments as the well is drilled deeper and deeper. What once took a crew of 20, will soon take a crew of 5.

The trend is difficult to ignore. And there are so many other good points Read More 
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Germs or Jobs?

Those of you who have had a chance to take a look at my new novel, The Piketty Problem, or The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming, know that its underlying theme is the impending impact of robotics on fast food in general and McDonald’s in particular. For those of you who might think I was stretching novelistic license, I thought this recent article about Chowbotics (now that’s a stretch!) in the New York Times might be of interest. The company has come up with a salad-making robot  Read More 
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In This Time of Trump, What the Hell Happened to the Social Protest Novel?

In advocating for a larger role for the arts in promoting societal change, the book world—or the lit biz as I like to call it—seems the logical place to start. Not only is serious fiction what I know best, but it’s also the medium that historically has had the most impact on society’s perceptions and actions, thanks to the “social protest” novel, a genre that sadly has fallen into disfavor among publishers to the point of basically disappearing. Read More 
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