CNN live interview on robots and underemployment

CNN conducted a live interview with me today regarding robotics and underemployment. You can watch their edited version, which differs slightly from the broadcast.  For some context: the broadcast piece began with b-roll of Baxter, and an interview with Rod Brooks, who stated that Baxter is designed to work right next to humans; therefore it doesn’t take human jobs, he explained, it merely works alongside humans. Their second recorded interview was with Red Whittaker, who stated that, to his knowledge, no robot he has ever developed has taken a human job. It was in the context of these two sound bites that they turned to me to either agree or disagree with robotics experts about just how robots may or may not threaten our jobs.  The gap between how roboticists tend to talk about this technology, and the concerns of ordinary citizens is both stark and frustrating. Often I hear roboticists explaining that robots do dull and dirty jobs that no human ought to do. My gentlest possible interpretation of this is just that the ivory tower researcher may not realize what a massive proportion of humanity works hard doing difficult and manual jobs to make ends meet. Maybe they believe that, somehow, rid of all this work, we will find new and fulfilling roles for all. Or maybe researchers spend very little time thinking about societal consequences.

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