Trump’s victory highlights automation vs. jobs

Ford auto factory
Robots work on Ford trucks at a factory in Norfolk, Va. The plant was closed in 2007. (Ford Photo)

Six months ago, computer scientist Moshe Vardi felt as if he was a voice crying in the wilderness when it came to automation’s anticipated effect on the job market. No political candidate, it seemed, was talking about the potential impact of autonomous cars and automated manufacturing on future employment.

Today, the topic still isn’t quite on President-elect Donald Trump’s radar screen. But his election has gotten a lot more experts talking about the issue.

“It went from being somewhat esoteric to being practically mainstream,” Rice University’s Vardi told GeekWire.

Since the election, Trump has put jobs front and center on his agenda.

“Whether it’s producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, in our great homeland, America, creating wealth and jobs for American workers,” he said this week in a YouTube video.

But Trump’s prescription focuses on renegotiating (or withdrawing from) trade deals, doubling down on fossil-fuel sources, cutting back on regulations and cracking down on work visas.

Even if Trump and congressional leaders follow through on those initiatives, they won’t address what Vardi and other analysts say is a fundamental shift that will transform the very nature of work in the decades to come: the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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