Could millions of jobs soon be eliminated by artificial intelligence and robots? From driverless cars to digital assistants, it seems the world of work is on the cusp of a technological revolution that is generating hopes and fears alike. But are the robots really knocking at the door? And what does all this mean for New Zealanders?
In this far-sighted and lucid book, Kinley Salmon explores the future of work in New Zealand. He interrogates common predictions about a jobless future and explores what might happen to workers in New Zealand as automation becomes more widespread. This book also asks big questions about the power we have to shape technological progress and to influence how robots and artificial intelligence are adopted. It sketches out two bold alternative futures for New Zealand – and suggests what it might take, and what we might risk, to pursue each of them. It is time, Salmon argues, to start debating and choosing the future we want for New Zealand.
'Scholars forecasting "the future" often forget that there is a multitude of possible futures - and all of them depend upon our choices in the present. Kinley Salmon's masterful book embraces this indeterminacy, debunks the misplaced fatalism about the impending 'robocalypse,' and offers a constructive vision for how to attain a future that we desire. Jobs, Robots & Us is essential reading for policymakers, informed citizens, and anyone who suspects that the future is still ahead of us.'
David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
'The next wave of automation is on the horizon, and it will change the world of work. This timely book considering the likely impact on New Zealand makes the important point that there is nothing inevitable about the changes - there are choices to be made about the kind of society we want, with technology serving us, not the other way round.'
Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge
‘Paranoia currently rules our world regarding the impact of technology on our lives, largely due to misinformation and a lack of context. Kinley Salmon provides a much-needed, informed and balanced view of the changes we face, where they have come from, and how they might affect our world both positively and negatively. It really doesn’t matter where you currently sit in terms of your perspective on the future of work - and our world in general – Jobs, Robots & Us is a valuable addition to your thinking.’
John Holt, Chairperson, Kiwi Landing Pad
'This is a very readable book about one of the central challenges of our time: what happens to good jobs as technology increasingly threatens to replace them with robots and automation? But don’t be misled by the easy-going style. The book packs a very important punch and a deep policy message. Technology does not drop on our laps ready-made; we can (and should) ensure that the direction of technological change is broadly beneficial to society at large rather than the lucky few. Kinley Salmon helps us visualize such a future through vivid examples and stories.'
Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
'A judicious and humane look at the future of work in a field full of hype and hyperbole. His emphasis that technology is not something that just happens to humans but is shaped by choices we make is worth saying, hearing, and repeating.'
Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
'Technology offers the potential to finally fix New Zealand’s long-standing productivity problem and lift the material well-being of New Zealanders. This important book by Kinley Salmon helps us figure out how to make the most of this opportunity while ensuring that the benefits flow broadly across the people of Aotearoa New Zealand. The challenge for policymakers is to now get on and do it.'
Paul Conway, former Director of Economics & Research, New Zealand Productivity Commission