How the history of technological revolutions can help us better understand economic and political polarization in the age of automation
From the Industrial Revolution to the age of artificial intelligence, The Technology Trap takes a sweeping look at the history of technological progress and how it has radically shifted the distribution of economic and political power among society's members. As Carl Benedikt Frey shows, the Industrial Revolution created unprecedented wealth and prosperity over the long run, but the immediate consequences of mechanization were devastating for large swaths of the population. Middle-income jobs withered, wages stagnated, the labor share of income fell, profits surged, and economic inequality skyrocketed. These trends, Frey documents, broadly mirror those in our current age of automation, which began with the Computer Revolution.
Just as the Industrial Revolution eventually brought about extraordinary benefits for society, artificial intelligence systems have the potential to do the same. But Frey argues that this depends on how the short term is managed. In the nineteenth century, workers violently expressed their concerns over machines taking their jobs. The Luddite uprisings joined a long wave of machinery riots that swept across Europe and China. Today's despairing middle class has not resorted to physical force, but their frustration has led to rising populism and the increasing fragmentation of society. As middle-class jobs continue to come under pressure, there's no assurance that positive attitudes to technology will persist.
The Industrial Revolution was a defining moment in history, but few grasped its enormous consequences at the time. The Technology Trap demonstrates that in the midst of another technological revolution, the lessons of the past can help us to more effectively face the present.
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'Will machines equipped with artificial intelligence render the human race redundant? Is work as we know it about to be terminated? When we try to think about plausible futures, history is a better guide than science fiction. In this important new work of applied history, Oxford economic historian Carl Benedikt Frey draws on the experience of the first and second industrial revolutions, as well as the first computer revolution, to offer answers to some of the burning questions of our time. His key point ¿ that technological disruption of the labor market is usually painful in the short run, whatever the long-run benefits of innovation ¿ is of vital importance to voters and policy-makers alike.'
- Niall Ferguson, Hoover Institution, Stanford, author of The Ascent of Money
Aus dem Inhalt:
Preface p. ix
Introduction p. 1
The Great Stagnation p. 29
A Brief History of Preindustrial Progress p. 33
Preindustrial Prosperity p. 60
Why Mechanization Failed p. 72
The Great Divergence p. 93
The Factory Arrives p. 97
The Industrial Revolution and Its Discontents p. 112
The Great Leveling p. 141
From Mass Production to Mass Flourishing p. 147
The Return of the Machinery Question p. 174
The Triumph of the Middle Class p. 189
The Great Reversal p. 223
The Descent of the Middle Class p. 227
Forging Ahead, Drifting Apart p. 249
The Politics of Polarization p. 264
The Future p. 297
Artificial Intelligence p. 301
The Road to Riches p. 342