The Robots Are Coming! The Future of Jobs in the Age of Automation

Andrés Oppenheimer, trans. from the Spanish by Ezra E. Fitz. Vintage, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-56500-0
Miami Herald columnist Oppenheimer offers a breezy, superficial survey of trends in automation that are expected to radically transform the workplace in coming decades. Oppenheimer traveled around the world to see for himself how autonomous devices have already begun to assume roles traditionally held by people, such as the robots in Japan who checked him into a hotel, and greeted him when he entered a bank. While he ends up asserting that the “world will continue getting better,” despite some “turbulent times,” Oppenheimer glosses over reasons to doubt that optimism; for example, he minimizes the potential for large-scale social disruptions when entire professions, such as truck driving, are eliminated, with no obvious or easy replacement jobs. And he also downplays the limits of some advances, lauding massive open online courses, or MOOCs, without noting that many who enroll never finish them. Sweeping generalizations (he writes that many Asian countries have a “family culture of education... that simply doesn’t exist in many Western nations”) and factual sloppiness (Carrie Fisher didn’t have to be digitally recreated for Star Wars: Rogue One because of her death, which occurred after that film’s release) also lessen the book’s credibility. The result is a readable but less than essential addition to the many volumes already available on this topic. (May)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Release date: 04/30/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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