Robot Riots Coming Soon?

| Thu Jan. 20, 2011 11:31 AM EST

If IBM can create a computer with enough truly human-like intelligence to win at Jeopardy, does this mean that semiskilled jobs will soon be a thing of the past? Adam Ozimek asks:

What happens in the future if artificial intelligence means that human-like robots start replacing jobs? When the machine that replaces you has a voice and a name, like Watson, it will feel different than when the machine is a big metal contraption that attaches widget A to widget B. I suspect that the more human-like the technology that replaces human work, the more people will begin to finally heed the arguments of free traders and reconcile their feelings towards technology driven versus globalization driven job destruction. Unfortunately, this won’t be in the direction we want. Instead, people will begin to see technological progress as a “they” who is “taking our jobs”.

I think he's right. Not for another decade or two, probably, but that's not really very far away. Our Caves of Steel future is closer than we think.