The robots. They’re coming for your jobs. All of you.
Long the prediction of futurists and philosophers, the lived reality of technology replacing human work has been a constant feature since the cotton gin, the assembly line and, more recently, the computer.
What is very much up for debate in the imaginations of economists and Hollywood producers is whether the future will look like “The Terminator,” with self-aware Schwarzenegger bots on the hunt, or “The Jetsons,” with obedient robo-maids leaving us humans very little work and plenty of time for leisure and family. The most chilling future in film may be that in Disney’s “Wall-E,” where people are all too fat to stand, too busy staring at screens to talk to each other and too distracted to realize that the machines have taken over.
We’re deep into what-ifs with those representations, but the conversation about robots and work is increasingly paired with the debate over how to address growing income inequality — a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.