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Surprising Science

Is Technology Creating or Destroying Jobs?

Technology is getting smarter, increasingly capable of white-collar work like legal research and medical diagnoses. Will machines finally put us out of work or can we work together?

What’s the Latest Development?

American unemployment has remained above nine percent since the onset of the Great Recession despite ongoing technological advancements which are meant to deliver more jobs. What can explain this? “America’s current employment woes stem from a precipitous and permanent change caused by not too little technological progress, but too much,” says The Economist’s American correspondent N.V. Unlike past technological gains, which have replaced blue-collar workers, machines are beginning to take middle-class jobs. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Machine-learning, language-translation, and speech- and pattern-recognition software are some of technology’s new tools that are replacing middle-income employees. Some social critics, such as Jeremy Rifkin, believe we are racing toward a workerless world at the speed of technological change, which is exponential, while the consumption that drives demand remains linear. But technology has never been a one-way street and it will continue to open opportunities, just as the app market for smartphones has.

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