The great robot jobs debate [Updated]

Jobs

During the last six months, there’s been a lot of debate about whether robots will eliminate the middle class as we know it by automating nearly every job that doesn’t require an advanced degree — and then, a few years later, start stealing our white collar jobs as well.

The piece that got the most industry attention was the 60 Minutes segment that aired in January, in which Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT shared their view that the pace of job loss to technology is accelerating to unprecedented levels.

That sparked a lot of negative reaction from the robotics industry, including a press release from the Automation Industry Association that emphasized the ways robots are helping businesses compete globally, create jobs and increase efficiency. The International Robotics Federation also published an update to its study “Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment.”

I’ve been following the debate with great interest, keeping track of a lot of what’s been said on both sides of the issue. The 60 Minutes piece got the most attention — because, as much as editors like me hate to admit it, TV still trumps the written word — but there has been a ton of digital ink spilled on the topic as well.

In case you missed them, I rounded up a mega-list of the articles that caught my attention in recent months. I’m going to continue to update this, so check back to see the latest. And if you have articles you think I missed, please mention them in the comments or email them to me.

List updated 8/23/13

Three-part series by the Associated Press:

Part 1: Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs

Part 2: Practically human: Can smart machines do your job?

Part 3: Will smart machines create a world without work?

Weeklong NPR Series: Robots Ate My Job

Robot Workers: Coexistence Is Possible | Business Week

Could a robot do your job? | CBS News

A Cheerful Welcome To The Robots, Our Future Work Overlords | Forbes

Better Than Human: Why Robots Will — And Must — Take Our Jobs | Wired

Will A Robot Take Your Job? | New Yorker

Will a robot take your kid’s job? | Boston Globe

Robots Help US Manufacturers Compete With China | Voice of America

The Robots Are Going To Take All Our Jobs: Isn’t It Wonderful? | Forbes

Robot Employment Scare: ‘Crappy Journalism’? | Control Design

Raging (Again) Against the Robots | New York Times

Rise of the software machines | The Economist

Rise of the Robots | New York Times

Robots And Jobs: Is Paul Krugman Really Saying This? | Forbes

That Robot Economy And The Rentier Class | Forbes

Robots and Robber Barons | New York Times

The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots | The Atlantic

The Robot Will See You Now | The Atlantic

Real Robot Talk | The Economist

Do Industrial Robots Really Have A Positive Impact On Employment? | The Robot Report

The Great Underemployment Debate, Continued | Robot Futures Book blog

Robots Are Not Killing Jobs, Says a Roboticist | IEEE Spectrum

Robohub Focus on Jobs | Robohub

It’s Time to Talk about the Burgeoning Robot Middle Class | MIT Technology Review

Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us? | Mother Jones

After Your Job Is Gone | TechCrunch

How Technology Is Destroying Jobs | MIT Technology Review

The history of the robot future’s future history | FT Alphaville

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