Maybe the automation of jobs will eventually create new, better jobs. Maybe it will put us all out of work. But as we argue about this, work is changing.
Today’s jobs — white collar, blue collar or no collar — require more education and interpersonal skills than those in the past. And many of the people whose jobs have already been automated can’t find new ones. Technology leads to economic growth, but the benefits aren’t being parceled out equally. Policy makers have the challenge of helping workers share the gains.
That will take at least some government effort, just as it did when the United States moved from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, with policies like high school for all or workers’ rights.
Whether there’s political will for big changes remains to be seen, but here are some policies that economists and policy experts think could help now.