原标题:U.S.老工业集散地的恢复生机 | 新加坡国立技术评论

Review by Edward

365bet官网 ,Here’s a startling fact: in the 45 years since the introduction of the
automated teller machine, those vending machines that dispense cash, the
number of human bank tellers employed in the United States has roughly
doubled, from about a quarter of a million to a half a million. A
quarter of a million in 1970 to about a half a million today, with
100,000 added since the year 2000.

Technology and innovation may be ‘‘overhyped’’ according to the director
of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, Jim Stanford.

U.S.老工业营地的再生。From rust belt to robot belt: Turning AI into jobs in the US

Martin Ford has seen the future, and it doesn’t work. To be more
precise, it generates wealth while obliterating demand for work. “Go
West, young man”, was the career advice of the 19th century. Today’s
equivalent is “get an engineering degree”. Alas, the latter is not as
rewarding as the former. A third of Americans who graduated in STEM
subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are in jobs that
do not require any such degree. Up and down the US there are programmers
working as fast-food servers. In the age of artificial intelligence,
they will only drift further into obsolescence, says Ford.

These facts, revealed in a recent book by Boston University economist
James Bessen, raise an intriguing question: what are all those tellers
doing, and why hasn’t automation eliminated their employment by now? If
you think about it, many of the great inventions of the last 200 years
were designed to replace human labor. Tractors were developed to
substitute mechanical power for human physical toil. Assembly lines were
engineered to replace inconsistent human handiwork with machine
perfection. Computers were programmed to swap out error-prone,
inconsistent human calculation with digital perfection. These inventions
have worked. We no longer dig ditches by hand, pound tools out of
wrought iron or do bookkeeping using actual books. And yet, the fraction
of US adults employed in the labor market is higher now in 2016 than it
was 125 years ago, in 1890, and it’s risen in just about every decade in
the intervening 125 years.

As we grapple with the advent of technological change – with
developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning,
the Internet of Things coming apace – it is easy to conclude that the
workplace of the future will be unrecognisable from that of the present.

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Though Ford is a software entre­preneur, it is easy to dismiss his
prognosis as the rantings of a latter-day Luddite. That is how many
responded to his last book The Lights in the Tunnel (2009), which warned
of a future in which even highly skilled occupations were vulnerable.
Rise of the Robots is Ford’s answer to those critics. Unlike his first
book, which was based on a thought experiment about tomorrow’s world,
this one is grounded in today’s economy. It is well researched and
disturbingly persuasive.

This poses a paradox. Our machines increasingly do our work for us. Why
doesn’t this make our labor redundant and our skills obsolete? Why are
there still so many jobs?

But Stanford is not convinced that is the case.

The vast vacant lot along the Monongahela
River has been a scar from Pittsburgh’s industrial past for decades. It
was once the site of the Jones and Laughlin steelworks, one of the
largest such facilities in the city back when steel was the dominant
industry there.

Ford’s contention is that our current technological revolution is
different from earlier ones. Most economists would disagree. Their view
is that today’s displacement is similar to the shift from agriculture to
industry. Roughly half of Americans were employed on farms in 1900.
Today they account for just 2 per cent of the workforce. Just as ex-farm
labourers found work in the factories, so laid-off manufacturing workers
were re-employed in the service industries. The IT revolution will be no
different, economists say. It is all part of the natural cycle of
creative destruction.


‘‘Sure, there are some incredible devices, some incredible technology,
that will affect how we work, but we’ve experienced continual
technological change for the last 200 years,’’ he says.


Ford finds two big holes in this Panglossian outlook. In contrast to
earlier disruptions, which affected particular sectors of the economy,
the effects of today’s revolution are “general-purpose”. From janitors
to surgeons, virtually no jobs will be immune. Whether you are training
to be an airline pilot, a retail assistant, a lawyer or a financial
trader, labour-saving techno­logy is whittling your numbers — in some
cases drastically so. In 2000, financial services employed 150,000
people in New York. By 2013 that had dropped to 100,000. Over the same
time, Wall Street’s profits have soared. Up to 70 per cent of all equity
trades are now executed by algorithms.

I’m going to try to answer that question tonight, and along the way, I’m
going to tell you what this means for the future of work and the
challenges that automation does and does not pose for our society.

‘‘Regularly there have been predictions that work is going to disappear
because of technology, and our biggest problem will be working out what
to do with all our leisure time. That doesn’t ever seem to pan out.

Most of the massive structures are long
gone, leaving behind empty fields pocked with occasional remnants of
steelmaking and a few odd buildings. It all stares down the river at
downtown Pittsburgh.

Or take social media. In 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65bn. It had
65 employees. The price amounted to $25m per employee. In 2012, Facebook
bought Instagram, which had 13 employees, for $1bn. That came to $77m
per employee. In 2014, it bought Whats­App, with 55 employees, for
$19bn, at a staggering $345m per employee.

Why are there so many jobs? There are actually two fundamental economic
principles at stake. One has to do with human genius and creativity. The
other has to do with human insatiability, or greed, if you like. I’m
going to call the first of these the O-ring principle, and it determines
the type of work that we do. The second principle is the
never-get-enough principle, and it determines how many jobs there
actually are.

‘‘In the real world, there’s more obstacles to technology replacing
labour than we give credit for.’’


Such riches are little comfort to the thousands of engineers who cannot
find work. Facebook’s data servers are now managed by Cyborg, a software
programme. It requires one human technician for every 20,000 computers.
Almost any job that involves sitting in front of a screen and
manipulating information is either disappearing, or will do soon.
Offshore workers in India are just as vulnerable as their counterparts
in the west. China is the fastest- growing market for robots. No human
can compete with the relentlessly falling costs of automation. Software
can now drive cars and mark student essays.

Let’s start with the O-ring. ATMs, automated teller machines, had two
countervailing effects on bank teller employment. As you would expect,
they replaced a lot of teller tasks. The number of tellers per branch
fell by about a third. But banks quickly discovered that it also was
cheaper to open new branches, and the number of bank branches increased
by about 40 percent in the same time period. The net result was more
branches and more tellers. But those tellers were doing somewhat
different work. As their routine, cash-handling tasks receded, they
became less like checkout clerks and more like salespeople, forging
relationships with customers, solving problems and introducing them to
new products like credit cards, loans and investments: more tellers
doing a more cognitively demanding job. There’s a general principle
here. Most of the work that we do requires a multiplicity of skills, and
brains and brawn, technical expertise and intuitive mastery,
perspiration and inspiration in the words of Thomas Edison. In general,
automating some subset of those tasks doesn’t make the other ones
unnecessary. In fact, it makes them more important. It increases their
economic value.

A highly influential 2013 study by the Oxford Martin School (a research
and policy unit based in the Social Sciences Division of Oxford
University) predicted that 47 per cent of all jobs could be automated by
2033 – a study whose fame is unfortunate, in Stanford’s eyes.

Next to the sprawling site is one of
Pittsburgh’s poorer neighborhoods, Hazelwood, where a house can go for
less than $50,000. As with many of the towns that stretch south along
the river toward West Virginia, like McKeesport and Duquesne, the
economic reasons for its existence—steel and coal—are a fading

Almost any job that involves sitting in front of a screen and
manipulating information is threatened
But it is Ford’s second point that is the clincher. By skewing the gains
of the new economy to a few, robots weaken the chief engine of growth —
middle-class demand. As labour becomes uneconomic relative to machines,
purchasing power diminishes. The US economy produces more than a third
more today than it did in 1998 with the same-sized labour force and a
significantly larger population. It still makes sense for people to
obtain degrees. Graduates earn more than those who have completed only
high school. But their returns are falling. The median pay for US
entry-level graduates has fallen from $52,000 in 2000 to $46,000 today.
It has stagnated for postgraduates. Education is by no means a catch-all
solution, says Ford. Not everyone can get a PhD. Assuming that highly
skilled jobs can take up the slack is “ana­logous to believing that, in
the wake of the mechanisation of agriculture, the majority of displaced
farm workers would be able to find jobs driving tractors,” he says.

Let me give you a stark example. In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger
exploded and crashed back down to Earth less than two minutes after
takeoff. The cause of that crash, it turned out, was an inexpensive
rubber O-ring in the booster rocket that had frozen on the launchpad the
night before and failed catastrophically moments after takeoff. In this
multibillion dollar enterprise that simple rubber O-ring made the
difference between mission success and the calamitous death of seven
astronauts. An ingenious metaphor for this tragic setting is the O-ring
production function, named by Harvard economist Michael Kremer after the
Challenger disaster. The O-ring production function conceives of the
work as a series of interlocking steps, links in a chain. Every one of
those links must hold for the mission to succeed. If any of them fails,
the mission, or the product or the service, comes crashing down. This
precarious situation has a surprisingly positive implication, which is
that improvements in the reliability of any one link in the chain
increases the value of improving any of the other links. Concretely, if
most of the links are brittle and prone to breakage, the fact that your
link is not that reliable is not that important. Probably something else
will break anyway. But as all the other links become robust and
reliable, the importance of your link becomes more essential. In the
limit, everything depends upon it. The reason the O-ring was critical to
space shuttle Challenger is because everything else worked perfectly. If
the Challenger were kind of the space era equivalent of Microsoft
Windows 2000 —

‘‘That’s nonsense, it won’t happen. There are certain jobs and
occupations that will be turned upside down by technology, but we humans
have a tendency to believe that just because something can happen, it
will become widespread. That is not necessarily the case.’’


What, then, is to be done? Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, said: “We
were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters.”
He was right of course; Twitter is not comparable to the invention of
printing. Yet in another sense, he was wrong. We live in a world where
everyone with a grievance wields more power in the palm of their hands
than the computers that sent Apollo 14 into orbit. Ours is a
super-democratic age. Ford does not believe technological progress can
be stopped, nor that it would it be desirable to try. Yet the robot
economy is inexorably squeezing our rewards in the jobs market. Ford’s
answer is to pay every adult a minimum basic income — or a “citizen’s
dividend”. There is logic to his remedy but not much realism. My
forecast is that cars will fly before that happens.


A good example is the driverless vehicle, he says. ‘‘We can do it, in a
controlled environment, the technology is there – but in order to make
it happen everywhere around us, there are going to be huge challenges in
infrastructure, communications and regulation, in public acceptance, in
capital investment. Just because these things can be done by engineers
in controlled environments, it doesn’t mean they are going to become

These days the old steel site, called
Hazelwood Green by its developers, is coming back to life. At one edge,
fenced off from prying eyes, is a test area for Uber’s self-driving
cars. A new road, still closed to the public, traverses the 178 acres of
the site, complete with parking signs, fire hydrants, a paved bike path,
and a sidewalk. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture it bustling
with visitors to the planned park along the riverfront.

the reliability of the O-ring wouldn’t have mattered because the machine
would have crashed.

The other thing that we tend to forget, he says, is that technological
advancements often create as many jobs as they remove. ‘‘If we look at
history there have been previous periods of very wide-ranging
technological change that didn’t necessarily cause mass unemployment.



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The gem of the redevelopment effort is
Mill 19, the former coke works. A structure more than a quarter-­mile
long, sitting amid the empty fields, it has been stripped clean to a
three-story metal skeleton. Crews of workers are clearing away remaining
debris and preparing the building for its reincarnation. By next spring,
if all goes according to plan, its first occupant will move in: the
Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.

Here’s the broader point. In much of the work that we do, we are the
O-rings. Yes, ATMs could do certain cash-handling tasks faster and
better than tellers, but that didn’t make tellers superfluous. It
increased the importance of their problem-solving skills and their
relationships with customers. The same principle applies if we’re
building a building, if we’re diagnosing and caring for a patient, or if
we are teaching a class to a roomful of high schoolers. As our tools
improve, technology magnifies our leverage and increases the importance
of our expertise and our judgment and our creativity.

Artificial intelligence is expanding, but jobs will continue to be
created in areas such as human and caring services.


And that brings me to the second principle: never get enough. You may be
thinking, OK, O-ring, got it, that says the jobs that people do will be
important. They can’t be done by machines, but they still need to be
done. But that doesn’t tell me how many jobs there will need to be. If
you think about it, isn’t it kind of self-evident that once we get
sufficiently productive at something, we’ve basically worked our way out
of a job? In 1900, 40 percent of all US employment was on farms. Today,
it’s less than two percent. Why are there so few farmers today? It’s not
because we’re eating less.

‘‘If the technologies tend to spur stronger business investment, then
you have a chance of growing jobs from them. All of these technologies
have got new work associated with them – yes, they do displace some
jobs, but they create other jobs, jobs that are required to operate,
develop, manufacture and maintain the new machinery, that involve doing
things that weren’t possible before the machinery was invented.’’

The symbolism of robots moving into a
former steelworks is lost on few people in the city. Pittsburgh is
reinventing itself, using the advances in automation, robots, and
artificial intelligence coming out of its schools—particularly Carnegie
Mellon University (CMU)—to try to create a high-tech economy.


Stanford says it is too easy for people to conclude that there are
relatively unskilled tasks – which will be automated away – and skilled
tasks, which will not. ‘‘There isn’t a perfect correlation between the
level of skills in your job and whether or not you can be replaced by a
machine. There is a kind of shorthand that says, ‘if you’ve got skills
you’re going to be safe,’ but I’d be very cautious about assuming


A century of productivity growth in farming means that now, a couple of
million farmers can feed a nation of 320 million. That’s amazing
progress, but it also means there are only so many O-ring jobs left in
farming. So clearly, technology can eliminate jobs. Farming is only one
example. There are many others like it. But what’s true about a single
product or service or industry has never been true about the economy as
a whole. Many of the industries in which we now work — health and
medicine, finance and insurance, electronics and computing — were tiny
or barely existent a century ago. Many of the products that we spend a
lot of our money on — air conditioners, sport utility vehicles,
computers and mobile devices — were unattainably expensive, or just
hadn’t been invented a century ago. As automation frees our time,
increases the scope of what is possible, we invent new products, new
ideas, new services that command our attention, occupy our time and spur
consumption. You may think some of these things are frivolous — extreme
yoga, adventure tourism, Pokémon GO — and I might agree with you. But
people desire these things, and they’re willing to work hard for them.
The average worker in 2015 wanting to attain the average living standard
in 1915 could do so by working just 17 weeks a year, one third of the
time. But most people don’t choose to do that. They are willing to work
hard to harvest the technological bounty that is available to them.
Material abundance has never eliminated perceived scarcity. In the words
of economist Thorstein Veblen, invention is the mother of necessity.

There are many low-skilled jobs that will remain safe, he says. ‘‘That
includes so-called lower-skilled jobs in private services – like
cleaning and hospitality work – and also in a lot of the hands-on work
that is required in those human services like healthcare.

Lawrenceville, five miles from Hazelwood,
has become a center for US development of self-driving cars. Uber
Advanced Technologies occupies a handful of industrial buildings;
self-driving startups Argo AI and Aurora Innovation are nearby. Even
Caterpillar has set up shop, working on autonomous backhoes and other
heavy machines that could one day operate themselves.

Now … So if you accept these two principles, the O-ring principle and
the never-get-enough principle, then you agree with me. There will be
jobs. Does that mean there’s nothing to worry about? Automation,
employment, robots and jobs — it’ll all take care of itself? No. That
is not my argument. Automation creates wealth by allowing us to do more
work in less time. There is no economic law that says that we will use
that wealth well, and that is worth worrying about. Consider two
countries, Norway and Saudi Arabia. Both oil-rich nations, it’s like
they have money spurting out of a hole in the ground.

‘‘But by the same token, there’s a lot of traditionally
higher-knowledge, higher-status jobs where the risks of automation are
quite severe – for example, lawyers, accountants, engineers and



Where jobs will continue to be created, he says, is in areas that are
more service-oriented: in particular, public services – human and caring
services – such as healthcare and social services, education and public

This has drawn billions of dollars from
Silicon Valley and elsewhere, a welcome development in a city whose
economy has been moribund for decades. And the effects are visible.
Self-driving cars out for a test ride are a common sight, as are lines
outside the trendy restaurants in what civic boosters call “Robotics

But they haven’t used that wealth equally well to foster human
prosperity, human prospering. Norway is a thriving democracy. By and
large, its citizens work and play well together. It’s typically numbered
between first and fourth in rankings of national happiness. Saudi Arabia
is an absolute monarchy in which many citizens lack a path for personal
advancement. It’s typically ranked 35th among nations in happiness,
which is low for such a wealthy nation. Just by way of comparison, the
US is typically ranked around 12th or 13th. The difference between these
two countries is not their wealth and it’s not their technology. It’s
their institutions. Norway has invested to build a society with
opportunity and economic mobility. Saudi Arabia has raised living
standards while frustrating many other human strivings. Two countries,
both wealthy, not equally well off.

‘‘Those areas are growing as a share of total work. Where jobs have been
created in the last five years – and the forecasts of where they’re
going to be created in the next five years – public services are very
disproportionately important. In fact, about half of all jobs in the
next five years will be public services. That suggests that as society
both ages and gets richer, people are going to want more of those types
of services,’’ says Stanford.


And this brings me to the challenge that we face today, the challenge
that automation poses for us. The challenge is not that we’re running
out of work. The US has added 14 million jobs since the depths of the
Great Recession. The challenge is that many of those jobs are not good
jobs, and many citizens cannot qualify for the good jobs that are being
created. Employment growth in the United States and in much of the
developed world looks something like a barbell with increasing poundage
on either end of the bar. On the one hand, you have high-education,
high-wage jobs like doctors and nurses, programmers and engineers,
marketing and sales managers. Employment is robust in these jobs,
employment growth. Similarly, employment growth is robust in many
low-skill, low-education jobs like food service, cleaning, security,
home health aids. Simultaneously, employment is shrinking in many
middle-education, middle-wage, middle-class jobs, like blue-collar
production and operative positions and white-collar clerical and sales
positions. The reasons behind this contracting middle are not
mysterious. Many of those middle-skill jobs use well-understood rules
and procedures that can increasingly be codified in software and
executed by computers. The challenge that this phenomenon creates, what
economists call employment polarization, is that it knocks out rungs in
the economic ladder, shrinks the size of the middle class and threatens
to make us a more stratified society. On the one hand, a set of highly
paid, highly educated professionals doing interesting work, on the
other, a large number of citizens in low-paid jobs whose primary
responsibility is to see to the comfort and health of the affluent. That
is not my vision of progress, and I doubt that it is yours.

Most work in society will still be doing the ‘‘traditional, hands-on,
mundane’’ things that society needs – and will continue to need, he
says. ‘‘Instead of viewing that as a drain or a cost, we should
celebrate it, and recognise that this type of work is producing the
things that people want, and then value it accordingly.’’

While many longtime residents complain of
skyrocketing home prices near the tech firms’ headquarters and test
facilities, they’ll also tell you these are the best days the city has
seen in their lifetimes.

But here is some encouraging news. We have faced equally momentous
economic transformations in the past, and we have come through them
successfully. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when automation was
eliminating vast numbers of agricultural jobs — remember that tractor?
— the farm states faced a threat of mass unemployment, a generation of
youth no longer needed on the farm but not prepared for industry. Rising
to this challenge, they took the radical step of requiring that their
entire youth population remain in school and continue their education to
the ripe old age of 16. This was called the high school movement, and it
was a radically expensive thing to do. Not only did they have to invest
in the schools, but those kids couldn’t work at their jobs. It also
turned out to be one of the best investments the US made in the 20th
century. It gave us the most skilled, the most flexible and the most
productive workforce in the world. To see how well this worked, imagine
taking the labor force of 1899 and bringing them into the present.
Despite their strong backs and good characters, many of them would lack
the basic literacy and numeracy skills to do all but the most mundane
jobs. Many of them would be unemployable.

Nor is Stanford a big believer in the ‘‘gig economy’’. Where it is
available, he says some people do prefer the flexibility and the
autonomy – but too often, that is in the context of a world where it is
very hard to find a traditional job.


What this example highlights is the primacy of our institutions, most
especially our schools, in allowing us to reap the harvest of our
technological prosperity.

But for most people, that is ‘‘an incredibly insecure way of trying to
support yourself’’, he says. ‘‘I think young people are interested in
full-time jobs. They want to have a mortgage and a house and a family
one day. They know full well that you can’t do that on a series of

But despite all this activity,
Pittsburgh’s economy is struggling by many measures. Though the city’s
population is no longer hemorrhaging away—between 1970 and 1980 it fell
by roughly a fifth—it isn’t growing, either, and is aging quickly. During the last half-decade, almost 70,000
people aged 35 to 54 have left the region.

It’s foolish to say there’s nothing to worry about. Clearly we can get
this wrong. If the US had not invested in its schools and in its skills
a century ago with the high school movement, we would be a less
prosperous, a less mobile and probably a lot less happy society. But
it’s equally foolish to say that our fates are sealed. That’s not
decided by the machines. It’s not even decided by the market. It’s
decided by us and by our institutions.

Nor, he suggests, will we all be working from home, or from coffee
shops. ‘‘Again, the technology gives us far greater flexibility than we
have ever had, but ironically, in the real world, people value
face-to-face contact and networking – perhaps more than ever,’’ says


Now, I started this talk with a paradox. Our machines increasingly do
our work for us. Why doesn’t that make our labor superfluous, our skills
redundant? Isn’t it obvious that the road to our economic and social
hell is paved with our own great inventions?

‘‘If you could do your job from anywhere, why on earth would a business
pay Sydney or Melbourne prices for real estate, in order to establish
there? They do so because proximity actually does matter, in all kinds
of ways, including face-to-face contact in business services and public
services,’’ he says.

And not far from the city and its elite
universities, in areas where the main hope for prosperity lies in coal
and natural gas from fracking rather than self-driving cars,
well-­paying jobs are scarce and towns are being devastated by opioid

History has repeatedly offered an answer to that paradox. The first part
of the answer is that technology magnifies our leverage, increases the
importance, the added value of our expertise, our judgment and our
creativity. That’s the O-ring. The second part of the answer is our
endless inventiveness and bottomless desires means that we never get
enough, never get enough. There’s always new work to do. Adjusting to
the rapid pace of technological change creates real challenges, seen
most clearly in our polarized labor market and the threat that it poses
to economic mobility. Rising to this challenge is not automatic. It’s
not costless. It’s not easy. But it is feasible. And here is some
encouraging news. Because of our amazing productivity, we’re rich. Of
course we can afford to invest in ourselves and in our children as
America did a hundred years ago with the high school movement. Arguably,
we can’t afford not to.

‘‘Unless someone has a very unique skill and a very high reputation, an
employer doesn’t want to just pay you to sit at home. They actually want
to see that you’re part of a team, that you’re doing what they want you
to be doing. Again, I don’t see a whole lot of change in the way that we
have to physically go to work, as part of our lives,’’ Stanford says.


Now, you may be thinking, Professor Autor has told us a heartwarming
tale about the distant past, the recent past, maybe the present, but
probably not the future. Because everybody knows that this time is
different. Right? Is this time different? Of course this time is
different. Every time is different. On numerous occasions in the last
200 years, scholars and activists have raised the alarm that we are
running out of work and making ourselves obsolete: for example, the
Luddites in the early 1800s; US Secretary of Labor James Davis in the
mid-1920s; Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontief in 1982; and
of course, many scholars, pundits, technologists and media figures

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This makes Pittsburgh not only a
microcosm of the US industrial heartland but a test case for the
question facing every city and country with access to new digital
technologies: Can AI, advanced robotics, self-driving cars, and other
recent breakthroughs spread prosperity to the population at large, or
will they just concentrate the wealth among entrepreneurs, investors,
and some highly skilled tech workers?

These predictions strike me as arrogant. These self-proclaimed oracles
are in effect saying, “If I can’t think of what people will do for work
in the future, then you, me and our kids aren’t going to think of it
either.” I don’t have the guts to take that bet against human ingenuity.
Look, I can’t tell you what people are going to do for work a hundred
years from now. But the future doesn’t hinge on my imagination. If I
were a farmer in Iowa in the year 1900, and an economist from the 21st
century teleported down to my field and said, “Hey, guess what, farmer
Autor, in the next hundred years, agricultural employment is going to
fall from 40 percent of all jobs to two percent purely due to rising
productivity. What do you think the other 38 percent of workers are
going to do?” I would not have said, “Oh, we got this. We’ll do app
development, radiological medicine, yoga instruction, Bitmoji.”

那让马赛不仅成为United States产业心脏地带的缩影,也展现出各个拥抱新数字技术的城市和国度面临的标题:人工智能、先进机器人、自动开车小车和其余新型突破能或不能够将繁荣带给广大人口,抑或它们只是把财富集中在集团家、投资人和一部分高技能工人手中?


To prosper, says Scott Andes at the
National League of Cities, Pittsburgh “can’t just be a producer of
brilliant talent and ideas that then don’t turn into job generation.” He
adds, “Pittsburgh is a great case study for the 21st-century economy,
because it is beginning to leverage research strengths into economic

I wouldn’t have had a clue. But I hope I would have had the wisdom to
say, “Wow, a 95 percent reduction in farm employment with no shortage of
food. That’s an amazing amount of progress. I hope that humanity finds
something remarkable to do with all of that prosperity.”


And by and large, I would say that it has.

Changing jobs

Thank you very much.

There is no sillier—or more
disingenuous—debate in the tech community than the one over whether
robots and AI will destroy jobs or, conversely, create a great abundance
of new ones. In fact, the outcome depends on various economic factors.
And how it will play out as the pace of AI intensifies, no one


Automation and robots have certainly
wiped out many jobs over the last few decades, especially in
manufacturing. In one of the first attempts to quantify the impact of
industrial robots, research by Daron Acemoglu at MIT and his colleagues,
based on data from 1990 to 2007, found that for every robot on the
factory floor, some six jobs are lost. That means as many as 670,000
jobs for the years that they looked at, and as many as 1.5 million jobs
at 2016 levels of robot usage in the US.


Automation is changing work

Gauging the net gain or loss of jobs due
to robotics and AI is a tricky business. But it’s clear that the kinds
of jobs in demand are changing as the need for manual labor declines and
that for digital and human skills soars.


The McKinsey Global Institute estimates
that about 50 percent of tasks done in our economy could be automated.
But such statistics are often misinterpreted. The 50 percent merely
describes the “technical feasibility” of what can be automated with
existing and emerging technologies, says James Manyika, the institute’s
chairman. The number of actual jobs lost will depend on the costs and
benefits of replacing people with machines.


Even more uncertain is how many new jobs
will be created. Many technologists, especially roboticists, assert that
advances will lead to a wealth of new kinds of work. So far, though,
that hasn’t happened, and few of the breakthroughs have reached the
largest sectors of the US economy, such as health care.


Perhaps we just need to be patient;
technology advances have always increased incomes, which then increased
demand for goods and services, which then led to more jobs.


But Laura Tyson, a top economic advisor
to President Bill Clinton and a professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, asks the question that is on everyone’s mind: What
if, this time around, the goods and services that people want just don’t
require much human labor to produce? “This is the first time that
technology, we think, could on net reduce the demand for human workers,”
she says.


“The naïve view among macroeconomists for
several decades has been that technology will always create jobs,” says
Acemoglu. “The alarmists’ is that this time is different and it will
destroy jobs.” Though in the past the economic benefits from new
technologies have always been enough to create more jobs than were lost,
he says, “lately, for a variety of reasons, there has been a much more
job-destroying face to technology.”


Part of what he’s describing is the
so-called productivity paradox: while big data, automation, and AI
should in theory be making businesses more productive, boosting the
economy and creating more jobs to offset the ones being lost, this
hasn’t happened. Some economists think it’s just a matter of time—though
it could take many years.


But the debate about how many jobs are
gained or lost obscures a much more important point. The location of
jobs and the kind of work they involve are changing, and that’s what’s
causing real pain to people and to local economies.


In the US, demand for low-­paying work in
places like warehouses and restaurants is growing; so is demand for
well-paying work in occupations requiring lots of technical skills, such
as programming. At the same time, many
traditionally middle-class jobs in areas like manufacturing and data
processing are shriveling.


These trends have contributed to record
levels of income inequality. “There is not a lot of disagreement that
technology is changing the skills and occupations in demand,” says
Tyson. “And that will continue to increase income inequality.”


This movie has, of course, played out
before. In 1900, about 40 percent of US workers were on farms; today
fewer than 2 percent are. In 1950, about 24 percent of the jobs were in
manufacturing; today around 9 percent are. Similar shifts are occurring
in other developed countries. But today’s changes are happening faster
and more broadly than before, leaving little time for people to


Many are simply giving up on finding a
decent job. Labor-force participation—basically, the proportion of
people working or seeking work—is showing a troubling drop, especially
for men aged 25 to 54.


Melissa Kearney and Katharine Abraham,
economists at the University of Maryland, have looked at why. They think
there may be several causes, but they say robots and automation are a
critical one. Many people without a college degree simply think the
prospects of finding a well-­paying job are too slim to make it worth


Inequality is up as growth

Despite advances in AI and robotics,
productivity is sluggish, and fewer people are enjoying the benefits. To
boost growth, especially as workforce growth slows, we will need more
AI, and we’ll need to learn how to deploy it better.


Princeton economist Anne Case and her
coauthor Angus Deaton have identified what’s likely a related trend.
They found that mortality is rising among middle-aged white people in
the US with a high school diploma or less.


The culprits: high rates of suicide, drug
addiction, and alcoholism, which Case and Deaton call “diseases of
despair” because they don’t seem related to poverty per se, but rather
to disappointment; in a reversal of expectations, people are realizing
they won’t be better off than their parents.


Automation might be partly to blame for
these social problems. But if economists like Acemoglu are right, the
key to creating more good jobs is not fewer of these advances but better
versions of them that are deployed faster throughout the economy.


Pittsburgh reborn

That, in essence, is what Pittsburgh’s
attempt at reinventing itself is about. So far the results are mixed.
“The transformation of the city by new, young people working in AI and
robotics has been spectacular,” says Andrew Moore, dean of computer
science at CMU. “But it has been more of an approach of gentrification
rather than an inclusion of the community.”


That criticism resonates in a place that
prides itself as a working-class city with strong unions and a rich
history of progressive politics. Mayor William Peduto helped attract
Uber to the city, but he has since soured on the San Francisco–based


“The Silicon Valley model doesn’t [put]
people in the equation. It is based on what return will be derived for
VCs,” he said in a recent interview at city hall with MIT Technology
Review. “In places like Detroit and Pittsburgh, when we look at the
future of work, we want to know what the future of the worker


According to a recent poll, more than
half of Pittsburgh residents would strongly support Amazon’s building
its second headquarters there. That’s far more than in many cities on
Amazon’s shortlist—in Austin and Boston only around a third of the
population would welcome the move.


It’s hardly surprising: Amazon is
pledging 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment, which would be
transformative for Pittsburgh. It’s rumored that the city is tempting
the company with the site along the Monongahela River that includes Mill

  1. 那并不令人吃惊:亚马逊承诺创立5万个工作岗位,投资50亿加元,这足以彻底改变长沙。据传该城市拿出莫农加Sheila河畔的一块地吸引亚马逊,个中就归纳19车间。

But if Amazon picks Pittsburgh, that’s
likely to exacerbate the anxiety over how to match residents with new
high-tech jobs. “There is nowhere near enough people in the city and the
region with the technical skills,” says CMU’s Moore. “We’re great in
terms of the rare genius leaders, but [Pittsburgh] really needs to
skill up the local population to take part in this.”


The challenge facing the city and the
rest of the country, though, is not only to include more people in the
high-tech workforce but to expand the supply of those well-paying jobs.
Advanced robotics can modernize the factories in a city like Pittsburgh
and help make manufacturing more competitive.


But the factory jobs lost through the
years aren’t coming back. As a country, we’re struggling to imagine how
to build an economy with plenty of good jobs around AI and


A person standing on the flat roof of a
building in the Lawrenceville neighborhood can get a glimpse of the
future. On the first floor is a large garage housing several of Aurora’s
self-driving cars. Off in some weedy fields is a Caterpillar backhoe
belonging to the company’s research outpost for autonomous machines.
Beyond that is a fenced-in testing area
next to yet another former steel facility—this one housing Carnegie
Robotics, which is working on a bomb-clearing robot for the Army. In the
background is the National Robotics Center, another imposing building
and home—until it moves into Mill 19—of the Advanced Robotics for
Manufacturing Institute.


It’s an impressive scene highlighting
signs, if you know where to look, of some of the world’s leading
research into robotics and automation. But it is also almost deadly
quiet. There are a few cars in the parking lots—those of the engineers
and programmers involved in the various robotic ventures, and probably
some visitors. Beyond that, there are no signs of workers




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