Posts Tagged ‘automation’

Jobs Go and Come

A recent article in the New York Times described new computer software that in an instant sifts through thousands of legal documents looking a few litigable items; they replace hundreds of hours of lawyers reading the documents. This is not the start of a joke about how many lawyers you need to . . .  But it does raise the question of how many lawyers you need. Economist-columnist Paul Krugman used the story to explain that computerization threatens to replace many white-collar jobs that are now held by college graduates. (And if you don’t need college graduates, do you need college professors? Uh-oh.)

1939 (F.S.A., Libr. of Congress)

It did not help settle anxieties that the story appeared shortly after IBM’s Watson computer beat two super-humans at Jeopardy. And now there  are reports of software programs winning big pots on internet poker. The specter of automation unemploying us all may have finally arrived.

For decades, ages before personal computers, learned observers wrote about how machines were going to replace humans – for better or for ill. Some worried that the masses of dispossessed workers would form a revolutionary mob; others suggested introducing people to uplifting hobbies since we would have so much more leisure time on our hands. But the mass job shrinkage that these observers all expected did not come. Has it finally come?


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