The chairman of Google parent company Alphabet said Wednesday he is a “job elimination denier” when it comes to robots and their integration into the workplace.
Eric Schmidt, who used to be the CEO of Google, asserted during a speech at an MIT research institute that occupation displacement from automation in certain areas is being balanced out by other additional jobs, Business Insider reports.
“The economic folks would say that you can see the job that’s lost, but you very seldom can see the job that’s created,” said Schmidt, who then goes on to give an example of autonomous vehicles.
While truck driving is one of the most common jobs in the U.S., Schmidt is indirectly arguing that the creation, development, deployment, and management of the self-driving truck could possibly require more workers. (RELATED: Amazon Looking To Remove Human Workers From Grocery Stores, Says Report)
“We have a tremendous dislocation in jobs — I’m not denying that,” Schmidt concedes, according to Business Insider, before adding that “in aggregate, there will be more jobs.”
The notion that robots have been affecting human employment was corroborated by a new report published in March that studied local labor markets between 1990 and 2007.
“Employment effects of robots are most pronounced in manufacturing, and in particular, in industries most exposed to robots; in routine manual, blue collar, assembly and related occupations; and for workers with less than college education,” reads the study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). “Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, we do not find positive and offsetting employment gains in any occupation or education groups.”
The study, though, didn’t factor in all of the potential effects of advanced technology, according to a tech analyst.
“We’re more likely to see humans working with and not competing against robots in many of the industry jobs imperiled by automation,” Ryan Hagemann, director of technology policy at the think tank, the Niskanen Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Because the authors’ model treats the labor market as one of competition between human labor and automated labor, it doesn’t seem to account for potential productivity gains through cooperation between the two.”
Others, like Hagemann and Schmidt, believe the tangible and intangible benefits of automation, robotics and advanced technology in general, may not be as easily understood, or conspicuous. (RELATED: Google Boss: Trump Admin Is Going To Do ‘Evil Things’)
“The endless search for new and better ways of doing things drives human learning and, ultimately, prosperity in every sense–economic, social, and cultural,” Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, wrote in his book Permissionless Innovation. “The pessimistic critics of technological progress and permissionless innovation have many laments, but they typically fail to consult the historical record to determine how much better off we are than our ancestors.”
Schmidt is reverberating such an optimistic, pro-technology tone, albeit with an apparent dose of understanding for those whose jobs may be replaced by the growing prevalence of robots.
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