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Take a deep breath

Feb 24, 2020

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This Is Uncomfortable
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Automation and how it could worsen inequality

David Brancaccio, Candace Manriquez Wrenn, and Daniel Shin Jan 29, 2020
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Workers at Kinross Clothing manufacturers in Maitland, sew men's trousers in Cape Town in 2017. Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images

Automation and how it could worsen inequality

David Brancaccio, Candace Manriquez Wrenn, and Daniel Shin Jan 29, 2020
Workers at Kinross Clothing manufacturers in Maitland, sew men's trousers in Cape Town in 2017. Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty Images
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Automation and the threat it poses to our jobs has been explored in any number of ways: which ones are “robot-proof,” which economies are more prepared than others for disruptive automation and whether that threat isn’t as close or serious as one might think.

But economist Daniel Susskind is looking at automation from one other angle — how technological unemployment will greatly worsen inequality, regardless of its potential positive effects. That and the exploration of ways to mitigate the problem are central to his new book, “A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond.”

“Today, the main way that we share out prosperity in society is through the market and in particular, for most people, through the labor market,” Susskind told “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio. “Inequality is what happens when some people get far more than others from that market mechanism. And technological unemployment is where some people get nothing at all.”

As automation leads to fewer good paying jobs created or maintained, that mechanism becomes much less effective, Susskind said.

Click on the player above to hear the full interview and Susskind’s thoughts on how to mitigate the negative effects of automation on inequality as well as the future of how we define “work” in relation to personal value.

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