90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
When Machines Do The Work

What will be our jobs? Never mind outsourcing, it’s machines moving in on the workplace.

In this July 27, 2011 photo, assembly line worker Edward Houie moves a door into position for a 2012 Chevrolet Volt at the General Motors Hamtramck Assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich. General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze car. (AP)

In this July 27, 2011 photo, assembly line worker Edward Houie moves a door into position for a 2012 Chevrolet Volt at the General Motors Hamtramck Assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich. General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze car. (AP)

Ever since machines came on the scene, humans worried they would steal their jobs. They did. But humans adapted. Found other jobs. My guests today, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT, say machines are now moving into the workplace at such a pace that humans can’t keep up.

Not even in many white collar settings, where subtle new machine intelligence is now challenging pedigreed human professionals. Plumbers, you’re going to be ok. But what about the rest of us?

This hour On Point: when machines do the work, how will humans make a living?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Erik Brynjolfsson, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business. He’s also the co-author of Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy.

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management. He’s also the co-author of Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “A faltering economy explains much of the job shortage in America, but advancing technology has sharply magnified the effect, more so than is generally understood, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

The Atlantic “Although computers are encroaching into territory that used to be occupied by people alone, like advanced pattern recognition and complex communication, for now humans still hold the high ground in each of these areas.”

Mother Jones “A pair of MIT economists, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, have written a new book suggesting that computers are finally getting smart enough to do jobs that only people could do in the past. Nothing new there. But they’ve joined a (still small) but growing number of observers who are afraid that the jobs being displaced are being displaced for good:”

Playlist

CALM LIKE A BOMB RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 26, 2014
Getting together with your family and loved ones at Thanksgiving and the holidays doesn't have to lead to  arguments and fights. (Meg Hunt / Flickr)

The Thanksgiving get-together and all the family drama trimmings. Sage advice from advice columnists.

Nov 26, 2014
A 1597 map of Lesbos / Mytilene, Greece by Giacomo Franco. (Flickr / Creative Commons)

How Aristotle invented science. The great ancient Greek, and life on Earth.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 25, 2014
A 40-pound tom turkey looks out at Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, Mass., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The farm raises approximately 20,000 Broad Breasted White Holland turkeys per year. (AP)

We’ll talk turkey and all the sides. Top chefs join us to answer your Thanksgiving questions.

 
Nov 25, 2014
A protester squirts lighter fluid on a police car as the car windows are shuttered near the Ferguson Police Department after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

Grand Jury decision out of Ferguson — no indictment. We’re on the ground with the latest details and reaction.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Last-Minute Thanksgiving Luxury
Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

Our three Thanksgiving chefs offer up their best bets for delicious, last-minute holiday helpers, including a crunchy celery salad and maple glazed carrots.

More »
Comment
 
Calling All Interns, Calling All Interns
Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Have you ever thought about interning with On Point Radio? Good news: your time is now!

More »
Comment
 
The Explicast, Episode Six: What Does A White House Press Correspondent Do?
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We turn to White House Press Correspondents all the time for news, but we’ve never really wondered how they gather their information. Fortunately, our guest host Jessica Yellin had time to sit down with The Explicast to explain.

More »
Comment