Please sign up and, as soon as a new blog is published, it will be sent directly to your email box!

Is the Populist Revolt Over? Not if Robots Have Their Way

January 31, 2018

President Trump before he addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times
What follows, without additional comment, is an excerpt from an article by Eduardo Porter that first appeared in the business section of the New York Times, January 31, 2018.

Does President Trump represent the new normal in American politics?

As the world’s oligarchy gathered last week in Davos, Switzerland, to worry about the troubles of the middle class, the real question on every plutocrat’s mind was whether the populist upheaval that delivered the presidency to the intemperate mogul might mercifully be over.

If it was globalization — or, more precisely, the shock of imports from China — that moved voters to put Mr. Trump in the White House, could politicians get back to supporting the market-oriented order once the China shock played out?

As Frank Levy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology noted this month in an analysis on the potential impact of artificial intelligence on American politics, “Given globalization’s effect on the 2016 presidential election, it is worth noting that near-term A.I. and globalization replace many of the same jobs.”

Consider the occupation of truck drivers. Mr. Levy expects multiple demonstrations of fully autonomous trucks to take place within five years. If they work, the technology will spread, starting in restricted areas on a limited number of dedicated highway lanes. By 2024, artificial intelligence might eliminate 76,000 jobs driving heavy and tractor-trailer trucks, he says.

Similarly, he expects artificial intelligence to wipe out 210,000 assembler and fabricator jobs and 260,000 customer service representatives. “Let’s not worry about the future of work in the next 25 years,” he told me. “There’s plenty to worry about in the next five or six years.”

You can read the entire article here. For a more entertaining but equally informative take on the same issue, please click here.