The new Newsweek cover story:
“Economists have shown time and again that automation helps overall standards of living rise, literacy rates improve, average life span lengthen and crime rates fall. After waves of automation—the Industrial Revolution, mechanization, computerization—we’re way better off in almost every way. As Matt Ridley details in his book The Rational Optimist, in 1900, the average American spent $76 out of every $100 on food, clothing and shelter; today, he or she spends $37. To buy a Model T in 1908 took about 4,700 hours of work; today, the average person has to work about 1,000 hours to buy a car that’s a thousand times better than a Model T. The United Nations estimates that poverty was reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500. If progress has been less kind to the lower end of the workforce, it still helps that segment live better than before, at least by making products more affordable and better at the same time.
And now, even with software automating all kinds of work, there are signs that the technology is creating more jobs than it destroys. U.S. census data released in September showed the largest annual drop in poverty since 1999. Nearly 3 million jobs were created from 2014 to 2015. Donald Trump won the presidential election by promising to bring jobs “back” to America—a promise believed by many who feel left behind by technology-driven shifts. Yet all evidence suggests that the jobs lie ahead, created by moving forward.”