On Sunday night, 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft investigated a pressing question for the coming decade (and century): Are robots taking our jobs?
The segment begins with the premise that the proliferation of robots in the workforce are helping companies maximize profits and productivity but are not necessarily creating more jobs, a troubling idea for a struggling economy saddled with high unemployment. Kroft spoke with MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who say their research shows that the rise of robots in the workplace is "absolutely" at least partly to blame for the curious shortness of jobs even as the broader national economy recovers.
"Technology is always creating jobs, Brynjolfsson told Kroft. "It's always destroying jobs. But right now the pace is accelerating. It's faster we think than ever before in history. So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to."
"And we ain't seen nothing yet," McAfee added.
If you've got 15 minutes, you can watch the full 60 Minutes investigation below (better not to do it at work, though, lest your boss replaces you with a robot as you procrastinate):
For more on the impending robotic employment revolution, Sarah Laskow asked the question "Will a robot take your kid's job?" in the Boston Globe's annual Ideas issue earlier this January. Wired Magazine also has a provocative look at the subject titled "Why Robots Will -- And Must -- Take Our Jobs" from its December 2012 issue.