Martin Ford – Futurist, Speaker, New York Times Bestselling Author and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

Leading expert on Artificial Intelligence, the Robotics Revolution, Job Automation, and the Impact of Accelerating Technology on Workplaces, the Economy and Society

mf2Martin Ford is a futurist and the author of four books, including Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything (2021), the New York Times Bestselling Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (winner of the 2015 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and translated into more than 20 languages), Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it (2018), and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (2009). He is also the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm.

His TED Talk on the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on the economy and society, given on the main stage at the 2017 TED Conference, has been viewed over 3 million times. Martin is also the consulting artificial intelligence expert for the Rise of the Robots equity index from Societe Generale, which is focused specifically on investing in companies that will be significant participants in the AI and robotics revolution. He holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a graduate business degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

MFord_TEDHe has written about future technology and its implications for publications including The New York TimesFortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, The Guardian and The Financial Times. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NPR, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and PBS. Martin is a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence—and what these advances mean for the economy, job market and society of the future.

Martin continues to focus on entrepreneurship and is an active board member of Genesis Systems, a startup company that has developed a revolutionary atmospheric water generation (AWG) technology. Genesis will soon deploy automated, self powered systems that will generate water directly from the air at industrial scale in the world’s most arid regions.

Speaking Engagements

Martinziggo_speak is a frequent keynote speaker at corporate, academic and government sponsored events/conferences and is available to speak on the robotics revolution and the economic, political, business and job market impacts of advancing information technology. He can also offer unique insight into the implications of future technologies for investors, as well as for specific industries and sectors of society.

Swedish Bar Association Keynote

For information about having Martin speak at your event, please contact:


Selected past speaking events include:

2017 TED Conference, Vancouver
(Watch Martin’s TED Talk)

Milken Institute Global Conference, Los Angeles

Goldman Sachs TechNet Conference – Asia Pacific, Hong Kong

Creative Innovation Conference, Melbourne

ISG Sourcing Industry Conference, Dallas

Asian Leadership Conference, Seoul

Tata Communications CEO Summit, Ascot, UK

Conversation with the White House Chief of Staff, Live-streamed from the White House

Accenture “People and Machines in the Digital Era” Event, Brussels


Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney

TOPMODET Summit, Copenhagenmf2

European Forum for New Ideas, Sopot, Poland

Industry of Things World, Berlin

Build Direct Partner Summit, Vancouver

VMI Leadership Conference, Virginia Military Institute

Emerging Issues Forum: FutureWork, North Carolina State University

Swedish Bar Association, Annual Conference, Stockholm

The 19th Annual Conference of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies, Abu Dhabi, UAE


Email: mford (at) acculant (dot) com

For Speaking Engagements:

Twitter: @MFordFuture



258 thoughts on “Martin Ford – Futurist, Speaker, New York Times Bestselling Author and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur

  1. Capitalism’s “relentless revolution” marches on, as Joyce Appleby expressed it in her recent book, with technology as its symbiotic companion. Only direct service jobs seem (?) insulated from “strong AI” because they can’t be routinized.

    The late 19th and early 20th century industrial revolution transformed “vocation” to mean “occupation” and the use of productivity enhancing technology did create wealth. But in losing that original meaning of vocation, we lost a sense of our humanity; will “occupation” and “work” follow in losing their meaning? Without an ethical framework (implied by vocation) for what is true and humane (i.e. The Stepford Wives: “…because we can.”), we are headed down a frightening path to Wall-E’s world.

    If we lose our sense of what work “is” and that it’s “available,” do we lose our sense of being human? Are our cellphone microphone/hearing devices the beginning of us becoming cyborgs? Is The Matrix a true future?

    Jeremy Rufkin’s suggestion that we reinvent what work “is” may be a better idea than we realize (The End of Work). But how do we value what tasks we would be doing enough to develop compensation packages, and who decides?

  2. How can someone with no formal training in economics get a book published and end up on waxing poetic on the topic? Well, I guess it’s a stupid question to ask how CNN wound up with a clown as a contributor…

    Maybe I (an economist by training) should publish a book on law; I have lots of opinions on this topic. Actually, I should write about the technical merits of different “computer design and software development” ideas. I don’t have any formal training here, but I did take an undergraduate electrical engineering course, and I really like computers!

    1. Well, I’d be willing to respond to your comments. However, I see you failed to reveal either your name or your email address…so I guess, I’m not impressed either.

    2. > Maybe I (an economist by training)

      is that as opposed to having an actual university degree?

      > but I did take an undergraduate electrical engineering course

      In which case, if you do not have formal education in economics, you may very well be more qualified to write about computers than to comment on economics. Unfortunately, though, I have to call “bullshit” on this claim, as well. While it is possible your university allows just anybody to take classes in electrical engineering, at my university there were quite a few more generic engineering class prerequisites. You didn’t take true “electrical engineering” courses until you matriculated as an EE major.

      So given that your post provides no hint that you have any knowledge of *either* economics or engineering (electrical or otherwise), I’m not sure why you expected anyone to take your opinions about the author or his views seriously.

    3. How come economists always feel “attacked” when others with a different background venture into their realm? If we’re all SO wrong.. then it should be able to disprove what people say..

      1. Economists feel threatened because they know their jobs are pretty much made up ones with no real scientific backing since it is a purely humanly made-up field unlike the real sciences. Yes statistics and math are real but statistics can be skewed to favor the flavor of the month. Most of it is based merely on past models and conjecture, something that is counterproductive for our current place in time. These jobs, economists that is, will be replaced quite easily by artificial intelligence, therefore, they are pretty much like politicians in the sense that they have no future and they are puppets for what is favorable at the moment. Quantum computers with artificial intelligence will guide our future strategies since people always think in terms of their selfish desires.
        All of these old timers who believe a degree in something is the end all and actually means something are just holding on to a relict of the past. The future humans will be impressed by the merit you put into life and what you achieve, not how many books and quotes you can memorize (for that any computer can do). Not to say schooling is unimportant as it will rule our future but how we go about educating will be entirely different. Problem solving and critical thinking are the attributes of future man. Anyone who thinks otherwise is doomed to perish!

    4. My problem with the “not impressed” comment is that they did not provide a counter arguement.

      There are several economic schools. I’m sure each one might offer an interesting counter perspective that opens up new dynamics to examine.

    5. Here is part of the reason for why the world is starting to realize it needs to listen to other voices than inbred mainstream economists, from 2004:
      “Mainstream economics, heterodoxy and academic exclusion: a review essay ”
      “Does the mainstream of economic thinking and analysis tend systematically to exclude ideas and approaches that could enrich the field, and, as a consequence, have important questions and issues been shunted aside for nonobjective reasons? Two recent volumes by heterodox economists that address these questions are Geoffrey Hodgson’s How Economics Forgot History: The Problem of Historical Specificity in Social Science, and Steve Keen’s Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences. I evaluate their claims of academic exclusion and assess the current state of (selective) pluralism within mainstream economics.”

      The article points out how far back these problems go: “In 1992, the American Economic Review (AER) carried “A Plea for a Rigorous and Pluralistic Economics”. This was a paid announcement appearing in the back pages of the journal, and was organized by Geoffrey Hodgson, Uskali Maki and Donald McCloskey. Forty-four economists signed the document, including the Nobel Laureates Franco Modigliani, Herbert Simon, Paul Samuelson and Jan Tinbergen. The full text follows: We the undersigned are concerned with the threat to economic science posed by intellectual monopoly. Economists today enforce a monopoly of method or core assumptions, often defended on no better ground that it constitutes the “mainstream”. Economists will advocate free competition, but will not practice it in the marketplace of ideas. … [the rest omitted]”

      Although in general that article concludes, I feel a bit too optimistically: “In summary, modern economics embraces pluralism but in a limited sense. Diversity is allowed in modeling but rhetoric without a model is still derided as unscientific. Many research developments filter down to students slowly (if at all), and many economists do not display methodological and historical awareness. We shall have to wait to see whether new winds will blow in economics education (undergraduate and graduate), and whether history and methodology will resume their rightful place in the curriculum.”

      You could find lots of other things if you looked around like the recent call by the editors of the “Heterodox Economics Newsletter”. They call for people to look into why three years after a crisis maintsream economics failed to predict, that alternative economics ideas are still excluded from most of academia and there is practically no self-reflection on the problem.

      See also the book “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt on how intolerant group think arises and sustains itself in academia. That is why I think that conclusion of that paper is too optimistic. Mainstream adademic economics as a social process tends to filter out anyone who would try to investigate a seriously alternative model (Chomsky also talks about this in “What Makes The Mainstream Media Mainstream”). How would you find three faculty advisors to get a PhD building a very different economic model that assumed, say, as shown by research, that creativity suffers when done for economic gain? Or how would you get an economics teaching job if you had suggested repeatedly that we needed a (socialistic?) basic income? Or how would you get tenure in a field emphasizing exchange if you thought we should have more local subsistence through 3D printing? While not impossible, it is so hard as to ensure there will be little dissent to what has become a sort of secular religion of market fundamentalism.

      However, most academic disciplines have similar group think issues according to Jeff Schmidt. That problem is not sepcific to the ecnomics academics, as it relates more to pervasive social problems in academia including related to bitter fights over funding that David Goodstein wrote bout in his essay “The Big Crunch” on how academia stopped expanding exponentially in the 1970s but still kept producing lots of PhDs. It is just that economic policy affects our daily lives in such an obvious way that we care more about the economics academics who influence it than we do about, say, those focusing on excluding others with different opinions about the history of Assyrian poetry.

    6. There are several problems with the current economics profession, but I would summarize them with pet theory trumping facts and failure to use models to accurately predict. In short, it should not be considered a science and its predictions about the real world have no more relevance than those of astrologers or entrail readers.

      Even those few like Paul Krugman who seem to have a reasonable model for cyclical events, fail to grapple with the fundamental changes occurring due to automation.

  3. Econfuture, I read your article “What if there’s no fix for high unemployment?” that was in “Fortune”. It was so insightful I posted in on Facebook page.

    There was an interesting article in “Entrepreneur” June 2010, “Entrepreneur Annual 100 Brilliant Ideas”:Outsourcing” it talked about using a company called Rent A Coder that uses crowdsourcing to match buyers with coders from across the world.

    Please keep spreading the word.

    Just out of curiosity have you always used Econfuture rather than your name with your blog. My reason for asking is that I have an idea for a blog string that I would like to use a ghost or pen name for at this point as I do not want to hurt anyone as I think my insights are not just limited to my experience but to others as well. A Social Media Expert that I talked to said that blogs are about authenticity so using a pen name would not be good. What do you think? Your help is appreciated.

  4. The solutions you suggest in the book emphasize the role the government will have in redistributing money to citizens for doing certain activity that society see as desirable, as a substitute to salaries.
    Not to contradict this – I think the free market economy will still have a role to play.
    Now, it may sound funny but I think it is already happening with reality shows and realty stars. Basically in a reality show big corporates pay ordinary people to be them selves in a show that is mostly a platform for advertising. The participants of the show get money either direct as prices or indirect from commercials or media related jobs. You can see people who become “professional” reality stars making a nice living commercializing their popularity.

  5. I have just finished reading your book, which I found very articulate and on the whole quite compelling. I actually am a lawyer and an undergraduate Honors major in economics. One of my economics papers was on automation – and I reached the same conceptual conclusions about the problem that you did. I offer the following comments:

    (1) I think the real weakness of the “Luddite fallacy” argument, perhaps more important than the assumption that machines won’t ever be able to perform many human tasks, is that it assumes a timeframe for readjustment that is unrealistic as technology continues to accelerate – yes, the children of farmers could find other jobs as farming was automated. When the pace of change extended over decades, excess workers were eliminated largely by attrition. The pace of change you anticipate will require the farmers and factory workers and knowledge workers to take up radically different occupations – not once, but perhaps several times in their lifetimes. Recent experience with auto workers, among others, must discourage us from believing that this kind of constant reinvention can happen for most workers. I think your argument would be more persuasive with more emphasis on the dramatic projected rate of change and our poor results when trying to retrain laid-off workers

    (2) I also think your argument about the impact of public expectations is stronger than you show – market economists, of all people, should be sensitive to role of public expectations (consumer and investor confidence, which they follow avidly) in shaping behavior. Indeed the current stagnation can well be explained as consumers who are increasing savings out of fear of the future and investors who are putting cash in the drawer because they see no sign of growth in consumer demand. All the Fed’s efforts to push money into the economy won’t do much good if those perceptions persist – the money will just go into the drawer or (if fear of inflation is a driver for investors) into commodities and gold, but not increase consumer demand.

    (3) When I wrote my paper on automation in 1962, I discussed it with a family friend who was a Socialist – he expressed the fear of increased unemployment, and when I said the goal should be “full unemployment” he was dumbfounded. Watching the recent election campaigns, I don’t think we have progressed much beyond “jobs, jobs, jobs.” We really do need a whole different mindset.

    (4) find your solutions both too general and too specific – of course we need to find mechanisms to provide income to all, regards of their work status, but there are lots of ways to do that, including e.g., the distribution of some amount of stock to every citizen (which is supposedly what was done in Russia when everything was “privatized”). The crucial point is that no one is to be left out on any grounds. Of course the current owners will fight it, but when 75% of the population is unemployed, or underemployed, or fearful of being in one or the other of those categories, we’ll either change our laws or collapse. My real point is to urge you not to get too tangled in arguments over your specific solutions – just insist that opponents generate alternatives that will actually solve the problem just as well – with real economic models, not loose assertions of the kind Hanson offers.

    (5) Finally, a literary comment – I don’t get the tunnel – why not a room, why not a shopping mall? I kept looking for the meaning or significance of the tunnel and never found it. But your book seems to be generating a lot of discussion, so perhaps the objective is being accomplished.

    I hope you have time to offer some responses to these comments.

  6. I will likely be able to provide great resources to fund this transition to make sure that everybody gets an ample share of the pie.

    On my website:

    First, I address a new political paradigm; please read through it carefully–it is much better thought-out than it may sound at first.

    Second, I address a technology, (patents pending,) that will help us to tap the energy of the Quantum Vacuum to power all of our devices and to thrust us, rapidly and inexpensively, throughout the Solar System. Using now-cheap energy to desalinate sea water, we will easily get more food out of less land than we are currently cultivating.

    There is abundant experimental evidence that suggests that this can really be done!

    Please contact me if you would, have any comments, or would like to help or know someone who might!

    scott 712 “at” hotmail “dot” com

    Wm. Scott Smith

  7. I just speed readed the book. I like the basic premise. Personally I migth guess that the world is much more chaotic than a single tunnel. The linear trend prediction should probly take into account the unknown unknowns presented by exponential tech change.

    A few thoughts that came to mind reading the book.

    As rapid change destroys new products, before they mature, I would imagine that companies will need to further increase the rate of innovation. Which means that they need to increase the productivity of workers – inventing and gettting new products to market quicker.

    You described entrepreneurship as a difficult process only understood by a few. But of course AI systems can make this process easier, safer, more efficiant.

    Also the same tools that replace workers also empower workers. A single worker could leverage the economic power of many. So perhaps its a race for employers to leverage this new ability. Ive often heard that billion dollar ideas are a dime a dozen, that execution counts. Perhaps execution will become easier.

    What does Martin Ford think of Cisco’s new business org structure and its promise to leverage social network web org to increase innovation?

    What does Martin Ford think of second life? I just saw a lecture by the founder on a youtube singularity u clip. He was explaining that the user base is much more creative than expected. Perhaps this is a utopian view of potential uses for displaced workers.

    It seems like the problem is not a zero sum game but a valley created between two curves. The rate of technical unemployment versus the rate of new business model innovation to invent new industry capabilities.

    I think the global development and finance side of the equation is more complicated and worth more examination. I think the neo liberal global finance capitalism is worth more exploration in relation to the worker replacement. The history of capitalism and euro caste systems is also important to explore. I’m thinking of the classical liberal prejudice the the poor are motivated by starvation and the upper class is motivated by ambition.

    I’m also thinking of asteroid mining, colonization of the stratosphere, space, other planets, the earths crust. 3D printer revolution. Desktop bioprinting. Desktop nano factories.

    It would be nice to get an economic analysis of all these topics. Perhaps your next book could be a debate with various economists about various known future trends.

    Anyhoo, thanks for the fun read.

  8. An additional arrow for your quiver. As the attached link attests, we still make lots of stuff in the US, it’s just that technology is making us much, much more efficient.

    When you get down to it, many of your opposition’s arguments are attacking a straw man of robots/AI being intelligent enough to “take over”. AI doesn’t need to take over. If it manages to only make a worker 2x efficient, then you only need half as many workers–if technology manages to make a worker 10x or 50x or 1,000x as productive, then the job loss is really just a question of scale. Total unemployment becomes a question of how quickly other “less efficient” industries can be created to employ the masses.

  9. See February 17, 2011, Wall Street Journal op-ed “Is Your Job an Endangered Species” by Andy Kessler for a description of how artificial intelligence is replacing humans in diverse jobs. In his last paragraph Kessler asserts labor-savings machines will always create as many jobs as they eliminate because that is what has always happened in the past. Unpersuasive.

  10. Very nice book, Martin, and a very original take on the actual economic impact of the “singularity.” I’ve always counted myself in the technology optimists column, but your book give me pause.
    The biggest problem I see with it is your proposal that somehow the government should be relied on to re-distribute some of the wealth that will be generated by automation. As if it could. History has taught us that such bureaucratic, top-down organizations, whether IBM or the Civil Service, are inherently biased, inefficient, and (no other word for it) corrupt.
    Much more likely that we will see some form of social organization animated by online connections that enables people to care for others voluntarily, in the same way it already enables people to author an encyclopedia, code software, and even provide customer service for profit-making companies. “Social production” may not be the answer to everything, but as automation keeps sucking the friction out of our system, it becomes more and more realistic.
    Social mechanisms have the unintended virtue, also, of undermining the patent-based intellectual property system – which is the system by which the machine owners absorb all that wealth.

  11. Mr. Ford, reporter Brian Callanan contacting you from Q13 FOX in Seattle. Am hoping to do an interview with you via Skype or phone tomorrow or Friday on the topic of automation taking jobs away. Do you have some time between 9:30-11:30 a.m. on either of those days? Please contact me at

  12. Having come independently to essentially the same scenario as Mr, Ford, I have primarily read the sections of his book that discuss solutions.

    An underlying premise of Mr. Ford’s solutions is that the revenues now provided by payroll taxes would need to be replaced and, indeed, augmented to permit the redistribution of gains from automation. But I’m not sure that revenues are really necessary to solve the distribution problem. Why not just print the money?

    A world without taxes is certainly no more bizarre than a world without jobs. The only obstacle to printing money is inflation, which, of course, is a de facto tax on currency financial assets, including cash. But inflation is only and always the result of too much money chasing too few goods. In a world where machines make everything except natural resources, can there be too few goods? Are there really any natural resource limitations that can’t be conquered by the brains that will bring us the singularity? For example, desalinizing and transporting the oceans for irrigation and drinking is staggeringly expensive, they say. But “they” haven’t allowed for machines to do all the work. So, maybe it’s not
    so expensive after all. Will we reach the singularity before we perfect cold fusion or some other breakthrough? Will anyone have to starve anywhere in this brave new world? In short, as we are hypothesizing a world without work, can we not also hypothesize unlimited production and then think about how much larger a money supply we will not only be able to tolerate, but in fact need.

  13. I’m all for alternative marketing, but down-voting competitors is a bit shabby, wouldn’t you agree?

  14. Martin, forgive me for contact you this way, but I’m actually interested in your book because you published through Create Space. I’m trying to help my boss self-publish his book, and our concern is that it will be very dense graphically–lots of charts, graphs, and photos. So we’re trying to find a similar book published by Create Space in order to examine the quality of reproduction. One review of your book mentioned one graph–so I’m curious: Does your book include many illustrations? If so, I plan to buy a copy. While I’m on the topic, are you happy with the quality of your book. Would you be willing to share some of your experiences self-publishing with Create Space? If so, do you have a more private space for such conversations?

    If you don’t mind sharing this info with me, you can easily contact me at

    Thanks so much for your time,


    C. Curton

  15. Of course the financial crisis we are all going through is worsening the employment situation, but it is the unemployment that started before the financial crisis which put the US economy as well as other economies on the dangerous slope of cheap credits and loans increase. Banks with the support of various government authorities tried to fuel the demand via cheap credit and easy borrowing methods, later on these credits becoming more risky, Banks invented various financial instruments supposed to cover the excess risks, but speculation on those new financial products lead very rapidly to the financial disaster we know…

    So at the origin, it was a severe reduction in labour income, due to great productivity gains in the past 60 years (five folds increase since 1950, while there had been a two fold increase between 1820 and 1950. OECD Statistics show that on average in all OECD countries, the part of labour in the value added lost about 15% over the 1950s to the years 2000s period, this created a severe income reduction among the consumer’s masses buying power, leading banks and government authorities to reduce credit interest rates and make credit easier to replace the failing consumer’s demand, in particular in the USA . This lead to a severe private debt increase too as less revenue and less demand reduced the sales and income taxes paid by millions of mid-range workers and at the same time, the tax reduction on high incomes (Reagan Thatcher’s fundamentalist strategies) also reduced the resources for US and UK national budget as well as other countries budgets. Creating then a public debt on top of an already excessive private debt…
    This public debt was again worsened by the governments decisions to bail out banks with huge amounts of monney.
    As a result, of all these public deficits, US government as well as European governments, couldn’t use a Keynesian “save the economy strategy” since the money wasn’t there anymore, and none was going to come from taxes in a slow demand economy.
    To make things worse if possible, Banks bailout by governments was given to banks without imposing on the banks to finance real economy activity. Which would have fueled an employment recovery which in turn would have fueled demand in a vertuous circle leading to more jobs and more income as well as more demand again. Instead the money was given without constraints, so banks came back to their old bad habits: short term purely financial speculation… plus huge bonuses to their managements who had in fact been responsible for the financial krach…

    Yet a NeoKeynesian strategy strategy had been mentionned by well-known economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and business men like by Martin Ford or Sam Palmisano (IBM CEO) in the USA and in Europe by Pierre Larrouturou as well as Richard Koo (Nomura Chief Economist in Japan)( who had all made a very similar analysis about the crisis causes and remedy…
    Before them to Jeremy Rifkin’s “End of Work” still valid analysis. In France, Dominique Méda wrote a superb book on that same subject “Le travail, une valeur en voie de disparition” (Labour a values on its way to oblivion),
    But instead of listening to those wise men and women, governments at home and while also participating at various world’s summits, kept avoiding the real economic and social structural problems, staying at the surface level with extremely weak financial reforms strategies , an attitude that Joseph Stiglitz called “Moving the chair around while being on the Titanic Deck”
    Any economic and political strategy that will not take into account the ongoing awesome technological evolution impact on societies at large and on workers in particular, will be bound to failure.
    And failure in this case will not only result in economic collapse, but will drive to social unrest in all OECD Countries as well as in the rest of the World’s countries.
    Another far worse possibility would be a third World war, as has been suggested by a few analysts considering various geopolitical moves in the largest economically strong countries…

    Let’s hope that world’s leaders will finally regain courage to face the reality and not hide behind self defeating policies which although supposed to salvage their own present positions will on the contrary make them loose everything and their people loose far more than their jobs.

    This is the subject of Pierre Larrouturou’s latest book:
    Pour éviter le Krach Ultime”
    “To avoid the ultimate Crackdown”
    A book which like Martins ford’s “The lights in the tunnel” should be available in as many languages as possible, in order to reach a much wider audience.

    Yours sincerely.

    Paul Trehin
    Former professional economist in High tech business forecasting and later on, full time involved in European Social Programs advocacy for various vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, elderly people, homeless people, unemployed people, etc.

  16. Interesting theory, thank you.
    May I ask, what happens when governments decide that consumption is unsustainable given resource and environmental constraints – and payments to the green lights need to be curtailed?

    There are two issues here – a) deriving most or all of your income from government reduces your autonomy. You have to do what the government tells you or they cut off your money. Governments will abuse it (“income management” for those who don’t toe the line) and people will resent being in that position.

    b) your solution depends on unlimited consumption, but this has its own problems. Call me Malthusian but as you have noted, it is not environmentally possible to raise 3rd world living standards to anywhere close to western standards. I understand your reasoning that consumption is essential to a free market system, and therefore to innovation, but Western-style unlimited consumption probably can’t continue for much longer without turning the planet into a pretty ugly place (read environmental collapse). Maybe technology will save us, and nanotech will be turning sewage into smartphones in a few years, but otherwise, propping up consumption is only a stop-gap solution.
    Unfortunately I have no alternative to offer, nor does anyone else as far as I know. It’s a bit of a dilemma – economic stagnation or environmental collapse.

  17. The other alternative was proposed by Buckminster Fuller in the seventies: “Make more with less” that through, what he called “Intelligent system design” resulting from a higher education level for all in our societies and in less favorised societies. Read his 1970 book “Utopia or Oblivion”
    Recent authors have come to a similar conclusion: “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet” Tim Jackson (2010).
    Scientific American November 2011 has a full article entitled “Sustainably doubling food production”
    This doesn’t relieve us all from some changes in our consumption habits… We should just increase our productivity as consummers: “get more pleasure with less consumption”

    Sorry for quoting again a past author: Vance Packard wrote in 1960 a tremendous book that all should still read now: “The waste makers”, addressing the points of a limited resource planet and a limited garbage can in which to throw our wastes…

    The ideas of Martin Ford are strong and should deserve more attention around the world in a situation in which we can see more and more uncertainty building either trough unpredictable innovation which can now come from any one and from anywhere in the world, thanks to the generalized accessibility to compute power to inventors and thinkers in the mid-seventies, this being boosted in the mid-eighties by innovations in both computing systems and in telecommunications ease of use.
    The other source of uncertainties is a greater geopolitical brittleness since the Berlin wall fall, and now in part also fueled by new technologies accessibilities to an even larger number of people throughout the world.

    This generalized uncertainty may be one of the key explanations about the lack of investment dynamism in the real economy, no one investor (private or public) being ready to bet her/his money on investments in the real economy, given the future technological and geopolitical uncertainties.

    A French author Pierre Larrouturou expressed an idea that comes close to that of Martin Ford:
    “While the current crisis is increasing unemployment and inequalities, unemployment and large inequalities in the past 40 years are at the roots of the current crisis, which financial appearance, is but the tip of the iceberg. Phenomenon very well described by Joseph Stiglitz in “Free Fall”.
    Pierre Larrouturou quotes an OECD report showing that between 1970 and 2006 the labor part in OECD countries economic value added, decreased by more than 10%: productivity gains not being fairly redistributed to employees, contrary to what happened in the previous period when, following the 1944 Philadelphia declaration, US enterprises tried to match productivity increases by better salaries ans life conditions. Hence creating the demand that boosted the economy until the mid seventies.

    Paul Trehin
    Former Business forecaster with IBM for more than 25 years.
    And former market research and data analysis asociate professor at the University of Nice in France.

  18. Thank you for those references, I will look into them.

    I have read reviews of Prosperity Without Growth. I agree with many of its ideals – reduced consumption etc, as necessary for future prosperity. But there needs to be a rigorous economic framework behind these ideas, a framework robust enough to counter the competitive logic of capitalism. Capitalist logic is deeply ingrained in human behavioral compulsions. Our acquisitive nature and desire for status are ineradicable and this drives consumption. The competitive logic of capitalism also operates at the level of all enterprises, (including nations), for which continued growth is essential for survival.

    I hope the references you’ve provided will supply some of that framework, but it’s a tough nut to crack.

  19. Thanks for your comments which I think were at least in part addressed to my contribution last night(European time: here we are a global communication)

    Concerning competition being engraved in human behavior let me suggest further reading in “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis” by
    Jeremy Rifkin. With a tremendously wide analysis while being able to demonstrate profound knowledge Rifkin contests this “naztural competitive nature of human beings”. A great many of human beings activities are conditionned bya a natural empathy. This evolved not from human nature but through the development of property during the Neolithic period when human beings started to own cattle and gros cereals which they had to store. . But this was not in human nature it was created by a change in lifestyle.


  20. Error, I sent my message a little too fast. Here is what I intended to say:
    Concerning competition being engraved in human behavior let me suggest further reading in “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis” by
    Jeremy Rifkin. With a tremendously wide analysis while being able to demonstrate profound knowledge Rifkin contests this “naztural competitive nature of human beings”. A great many of human beings activities are conditionned bya a natural empathy. Competitive behavior evolved not from human nature but through the development of property during the Neolithic period when human beings started to own cattle and gros cereals which they had to store. . But this was not in human nature it was created by a change in lifestyle that the development of ownership and early urban civilisation entailed.


    1. Absolutely, also read Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate etc., and Dawkins, and lots more – human beings are a complex mix of aggression and cooperation, basically dumped in our genes from our tribal background. And all the ‘Tit for Tat’ experiments and theory which shows that cooperation can be an evolutionary successful strategy (more or less). Life is not a zero sum game – thankfully.

  21. Material shortage is the problem. The base cost of materials and hence products is energy. Cheap energy makes cheap goods. How to make cheap energy ? PV ( photo voltaic s are getting close to the .$ 0.50 per watt, if installation is not counted. There are many lower cost PV technologies that offer even better value and largely eliminate installation costs and grid linking. IF we can cooperatively pull private and individual resources of those who wish to power their homes and businesses with PV, in less than 7 years, the cost of energy on the planet can be ” too cheap to meter”. The entire economic equation will be stood on its head. Remember this: at 0.50 cents per watt, it takes about 2 years to pay for the PV. That leaves another 25-40yrs of “free power” from the panels, before replacement. At a US average of $2k per year for electricity x 150 million households, a huge amount of money is saved and can be reapplied to expansion of PV through low interest loans.
    When energy is this cheap, products have little or no value and the normal capitalist incentive is lost. This can be done by linking small buying co-ops on a global scale,. This puts them in control of their own supply, financing, and research.
    There is more than enough for everyone, and automation becomes our best friend, and not the enemy, we also become materially equal. It would be like all oil nations deciding to offer all their oil for free, to the world, or what was promised in the ’50’s of nuclear energy being “too cheap too meter”
    For the younger readers, google the “triple revolution statement “of 1964. In it, the prediction of technology replacing workers was addressed and social US solutions offered. Its interesting that many saw this coming almost 50 yrs ago. Also google “everything for everybody” , to find a 1949 article in Time showing the near term possibility of this reality in the US. Incidentally, for those believing that other than 1st and 2nd world wars, the US economy has not seen expansion. We were the supplier to the world, until they learned to do it for themselves and compete with us. Add slavery, all our pensions entering the market and cheap credit, you can see, not much of true capitalism has been at work.
    It seems more valuable to find transitional pathways than debating who to believe, the evolutionary path has always bee pointed at material security for everyone. Capitalism has just been the most recent vehicle, that has fallen short.

    Joe Stevenson

    1. Before we lament the failure of capitalism we ought to be sure of our definition. Adam Smith wrote about its benefits in contrast to Mercantilism. Government supported monopolies aren’t capitalist in nature or in their behavior.
      Limited liability corporations are given similar advantages by governments. We might argue that capitalism only has a share of the present day marketplace, and isn’t the part that falls short.

  22. Paul, thanks for your reply. But I’m not sure I buy the argument – certainly humans have empathy, and we’re not always selfish agents, (thankfully), but my point is simply that capitalism very successfully exploits our acquisitiveness and desire for status (through advertising etc), and the result is unsustainable consumption. We can’t simply overcome this – I think these traits _are_ deeply embedded evolved behaviours, despite what Rivkin claims. Our acquisitiveness is not essentially a bad thing, any more than our taste for sugar and fat is essentially a bad thing, but both have undesirable consequences in an environment where there are no natural limits. Our desire for status we share with all social animals, it is very deeply embedded and drives a lot of consuming behaviour – Apple product anyone?

    The more I think about the argument presented in the book, the more I begin to doubt its premises, and the more it seems that the solution offered (guaranteeing consumption) is part of the problem.

    Technology will cause social disruption, but perhaps not as suddenly and catastrophically as suggested.
    AI is not yet worthy of the name, and barring some breakthrough, no closer than nanotech.
    Robots will continue to spread, but mostly in purpose-built environments – factories, warehouses, supermarkets, fast-food chains.
    No doubt a lot of jobs will go and societies will need to develop political responses to it, but it will likely be a (relatively) gradual process, much like the collapse of manufacturing in most western countries.

    The real pressing and insoluble problems are our weakness for consuming, and the concentration of capital. Concentration of capital’s happening now, and it will continue unless something radical is done about it. Everywhere you go, you see the same chain stores, the same shop signs in every suburb. The technology discussed will only exacerbate this trend towards wealth and power accumulating in the hands of a few, a trend which seems to be a natural, but undesirable cycle in all societies historically.

    Sorry to be pessimistic, but although it’s easy to say we shouldn’t consume so much, though we can recognise that an economic system based on endless expansion is unsustainable, a workable alternative has not yet been devised. Still, I have to read all your references, maybe a solution is in there somewhere !

    1. I think people can get too hung up on expansion, consumption and resources. Of course there are problems, but resources like sunlight, wind are only just beginning to be tapped, and if fusion ever gets going, all bets are off for energy consumption.
      Silicon is very plentiful – look at how little is consumed by Intel, Apple etc. Yes I know there are some probs with rare earths – but there are also many new developments in materails science like carbon nanotubes, graphene sheets etc.
      Even food need not be a problem – theres hydroponics for one thing, and food scarcity has at least as much to do with delivery and failing states as in food production.
      Thats not to say there wont be problems, but none of them are insoluble in principle.

  23. I agree with Martin’s prognostications but don’t think his solutions work. My question is this: Might the services sector grow so large that it mitigates the effect of loss of manufacturing jobs?

  24. Martin Ford specifically describes the loss of jobs in the white collar population.
    How many top level infographists did the new advances in “Photochop” suppress by bringing to a far larger public the ability to modify pictures for business applications.
    How many secretarial jobs are lost through e-mail communication, and to direct travel arrangements made by employees, not to count the travel agents jobs lost through the same process.

    Services to the person: elderly ou disabled or both may be a niche where “robots” are still far too primitive to replace human beings.

    So It isn’t only industrial jobs that disapear, nor only low skill jobs in distribution processes via cash register automation, but all jobs except very highly skilled ones wich will remain the privilege of a few , certainly not enough job creation to soak the job losses due to pervasive tasks automation.

  25. It does seem that even service jobs will be significantly reduced by automation. No matter how we look at this. jobs and livelihood need to be treated as largely unrelated. The problem seems to be not automation and jobs, but collective wealth. There are not enough resources to allow each of us a reasonable standard of living or the natural options most may need to pursue. Scarcity is an essential component of global economics. Limiting the available resources allow the few to increase wealth while the many learn to survive with less.
    The good news is that all nations are confronting the same issues of unemployment and population material needs. Socialism is not a real answer, but neither is a system where the successful must pay the minimum material needs of the many. There isn’t enough surplus real wealth in the world for this to even work, so something basic must change. It no longer will work to take jobs back from other nations and no have to pay a major cost to provide or control those we have left unemployed, so change will come, no matter what we do. Martin is right, in his attempt to get us thinking before we are in the thick of the problem.
    The solutions may be found in the creation of energy surpluses through renewable energy source. A PV panel payback is 3-5yrs in energy cost to manufacture, and the energy cost it replaces. For the next 35- 40yrs, the energy produced is paid for( essentially free). It is decentralized, portable, etc.
    Energy is 90% (?) of the base cost of materials and and manufactured goods, including farming. Cooperative production of PV and other sources could lead to energy surpluses, leading to significantly lowered cost of goods, reducing the need to exploit goods for wealth.
    Anyone else have a path ?

  26. You’re right the current economic and societal consumerist model with ever higher resource depletion cannot continue for ever and the other side is also creating more and more waste is impossible as we don’t have an infinite garbage tank.

    This message has been formulated since the 1960s authors like Vance Packard wrote a visionary book on the subject in 1960: “The Waste makers” where he commented about abuses of the consumerism. He also wrote a more famous book “The Hidden Persuaders.

    However authors like Buckminster Fuller in the 1970s rightfully argued that the big problem wasn’t a question of worls’s population and a Malthusian reaction to it, but a problem of being smarter when using Earth resources by inventing more intelligent ways to design our products which he summarized through a short and powerful “Produce more with less”. He gave an example in architecture conceiving habitats that were offering as much space ane comfort withe about 1% of the building materials than was required through traditional building construction.
    One may read or read again “Utopia or Oblivion”.
    Tim jackson, a more recent author wrote a fascinating book “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”.

    Combined with Martin Ford’s “The lights in the tunnel” these readings may help us all see a more positive future.


    1. Paul- we as a species, now can produce way more than we can consume. It is simply not in the narrow economic interest to not have scarcity. Surplus devalues goods and services, in the current model. Waste is stupid, but not the basic problem, as one can see from what the and many nations did during WW2. Everything was reused, everything. Japan built it post war economic models of rapid recycling, so consumerism may be pointless, but it really isn’t the problem. The issue that constantly jumps out at me, is that managed scarcity makes us choose between “them vs us”. States fight to take jobs from each other, we keep talking about bring jobs back to the US, but what happens to the others ? There is no point to this model any longer. The rich, investor group find it harder and harder to make the big, low risk score. Anything new is easily replicated worldwide. This has been the case for 20 or more years. It is just that our 401 ks and expanded debt, allowed for the big “bubbles” of the past 20 yrs. You may also like to google the “triple revolution statement” from 1964. It might amaze anyone following Martin’s blog. Bucky and others did a lot of ground work that we can all sue a a foundation for making the future work.

  27. It seems the responses are much less contentious and continue to add insight to Martin’s premise.
    I wonder, if or how many of us see the need to put our efforts into finding solutions or at least help steer this crippled ship to a soft landing ? If they are others reading these responses who want to work on strategies and solutions, please let me know.
    Analysis should lead to actions, right ? We often forget that it is we who have most of the resources, skills, and energy, so waiting for some designated “leaders” pr government is not in our best interest. I assume my email shows when you receive these responses, but if not: Martin has done his job by getting us commenting and discussing…

  28. Just finished a fast read. Im impressed, its a good discussion of a very tricky subject.

    A couple of devils advocates points:

    1. If nanotech really delivers what Drexler promises (thats a big if), then houses and healthcare could get really cheap as well – houses built by nanomachines, and healthcare by nanobots in our bloodstream. Who knows – thats the trouble with predicting the future.

    2. Beaurocracies are good at creating useless jobs – useful only in sustaining and growing the bureaucracy. You could just about envisage a future where everyone works for the government, and revenue is raised from a handful of nanotech companies. Maybe.

    Of course many other futures are possible? – like Neal Stevensons Diamond Age for example, or the breakdown of government into a fragmented collection of franchises (was that Snowcrash?).

    Whatever, its highly likely that the future is going to be very different, and we have to start rethinking it as best we can – which is probably not very well.

  29. If we have unlimited energy, we can have unlimited consumption. Yes, we may also need recycling, but most of what we want, is either for status, or for pure curiosity
    We humans have never know global surplus and hence only have rational self survival leading our perspectives on life and each other. We do not yet know what we are like, when no looking over our shoulders. We are keeping more than 60% of our species from contributing to our collective surplus. More manufacturing capacity sits idle, in the world that is producing, and similar things are operational in the food system. We just haven’t realized that we can make this work, in excess for everyone, and therefore no real plans are in place. Fuller saw through this false assumption 50 yrs ago, and we are still muddying around like this is out of our hands. If we go solar, why not build your own neighborhood micro grid, and subsidize the next neighborhoods systems, or join together to make our own panels, in a global cooperative. Make energy !

  30. I agree essentially with your basic premise that most jobs will fall victim to automation, including white collar service jobs and knowledge-based positions. I applaud your solutions, but don’t fully believe they will be politically acceptable. But I am posting here to make two points:
    (a) you very rightly emphasize how important education will be in bringing focus and meaning to people’s lives in an automated future. However, this is an extremely tall order. I wish it were otherwise, but I think that the vast majority of people are not good students/learners, and certainly not life-long learners. And that’s in developed countries. In the developing world, there are certainly many brilliant students/scholars/educators/citizens, but much less of an overall culture that supports an educational infrastructure of the sort needed to meet the leisure time challenge you foresee (not that the developed world is all that much better at it!).
    (b) In a somewhat self-serving book, The Coming Jobs War (based on a comprehensive, worldwide Gallup polling project over the last 6-7 years), Jim Clifton, chairman of Gallup, reports that what most people want, wherever they are in the world, is “a good job,” providing 30+ hours/week of full-time employment, a decent salary, and benefits. Assuming this is true — and it certainly seems plausible if not self-evident — then we are headed for a cataclysmic social struggle on a global scale. Clifton’s underlying thesis is that there is NO OTHER SUBSTITUTE for “a good job” to satisfy the essential needs of most of the world. A life of leisure or pursuit of the arts or making/listening to music or cooking or woodworking or whatever, even raising children, is not the primary objective of the world’s population. It’s going to work at “a good job.” Now, it is certainly conceivable for some people to accept a life of purposeful pursuits unrelated to a “job” so long as they have economic security, but I suspect that the incidence of mental illness, drug addiction, crime, and other forms of violent conflict and social upheaval/chaos will skyrocket. The bottom line is that your “solution,” even if it were practical, is just not how people seem to envision spending their lives.
    As a corollary to this, there are many in the West who pin their hopes on entrepreneurial efforts to pull the economy up by its bootstraps. At best, though, entrepreneurs and their employees are a tiny minority. Without a vast market (people with money) to buy their goods and services, even they are doomed along with the rest of us!

    1. There is a difference between asking people what they want, and what they really want, or need. Speaking as someone who has been retired from work for a long time (20+ years), I can assure you that life can be filled with activities other than work. In fact us oldies wonder how we ever had time to work at all. I am in my house in Spain (lots of time spent travelling), and have just walked 4 hours in the surrounding mountains, now I have to spend time on the net, my blog, facebook, google+, email, reading, learning Spanish..whoah.
      Remember the Athenians – who had slaves lower masses to do the hard stuff, they found plenty of things to do. That adjustment is easy enough to make – its the distribution of income thats the hard bit.

  31. To Joe Atiyah: I need no convincing that a life of leisure is just fine for some people. Personally, I am quite capable of spending my time reading, writing, traveling, exploring, watching movies, etc., etc. And the Athenian elite certainly came to mind. What I refer to in my post is the situation that I feel applies to the vast majority of the world’s population, which does not find such activities fulfilling enough to substitute for “a good job.” Even many of my retired friends are not really content golfing all day and then going to the movies. They want something else. And most of the working age population in any country will get “restless” at the least and downright rebellious and (self-)destructive if there is no productive work for them to do.

    Yes, there is a difference between what people say they want and what they really want. Over a long period of time (several generations), populations in societies where most of the work has been automated may come to see things differently and express different needs. I guess it’s a question of having both the evolution/transition to automation take place slowly enough for the human/emotional transition to a leisure-based society to take place at the same time.

  32. I am interested in if/how Mr. Ford has changed his views since the 2009 Lights in the Tunnel. It would be good if dates were attached to links. It will be interesting to see if Rodney Brooks company Heartland Robotics (now Rethink Robotics) will accelerate robots replacing humans. Product announcements are due in early 2013. They are rumored to be more humanlike. Chipmunks, squirrels and groundhogs coexist in my backyard, but grey squirrels are driving out red squirrels in England – the “reds” are very similar but weaker. It will also be interesting to see if Watson can be successfully switched to medicine and eliminate some doctor jobs.

  33. This work by an excoriated non-economist (Ford) may be one of the most important and seminal to come in the past several hundred years. Resistance, as with any upsetting paradigm (see Kuhn’s work), is to be expected. Economically, philosophically and morally, the concept that the market is a public resource, hence part of the commons, has huge implications. Most economic systems end up reifying The Market and thus devolve into a kind of unquestioning idolatry; whereas, Ford’s conception of the market regards it as a human meta-phenomenon. This shift is as major as that from a geo-centric perspective to a solar-centric one.

  34. Loved the book . . . thanks.

    I have recently been looking online for early evidence of this robot/automation trend in Japan, and I came across this blog article written in 2009 which made some interesting claims.

    — snippet from article —
    ” You can see that despite the rising unemployment rate in Japan over the neo-liberal period, which has culminated in the change of government yesterday, the economy still performs a lot better than the English-speaking economies including Australia.

    One of the reasons for this is that despite their highly productive manufacturing sector, which is blueprinted by plants around the world, their service sector is deliberately inefficient, when measured in narrow neo-classical terms. The service sector is intentionally labour intensive to ensure that as many jobs are created as possible. The first few times you visit Japan you cannot help but notice how many shop staff there are ready to help.

    The division of labour is a bit unclear to the visitor but as you learn more about the economy you realise there is a plan to this – to maximise employment. It is a clever strategy – maximise narrow efficiency in the traded-goods sector and maximise employment in the non-traded, non-competitive sector of the economy. And this plan even evaded the neo-liberal drive to impose narrow productivity notions on the entire economy – at least it mostly evaded it.

    That is why the unemployment rate overall has not risen as much as it has in other countries which have allowed their service sectors to be the arenas of increasing casualisation and disadvantage.”
    — end of snippet —

    Japan’s service sector is now INTENTIONALLY labour intensive to ensure that as many jobs are created as possible.

  35. I think the rapid accelerating change in tech is our biggest threat going forward, but also it could be the greatest thing via the utopian singularity. And of course few economists and politicians give any of this lip service. I think mainly because there are no obvious or PC solutions at this point.

    I have a blog about rapid tech changes. This should be a wake up for a lot of people.

  36. It’s possible to become more useful since this. There are lots of a few some tips i may understand simply after reading the great write-up

  37. If I understand the book correctly, Martin Ford is predicting that the introduction of Artificial Intelligence will displace many of the expensive knowledge workers in the industrialized world by performing the same tasks at progressively cheaper costs.

    This reduction in employment income will create an economic crisis as the consumer base that supports the economy shrinks.

    He suggests that government expansion of the Welfare State could be a possible solution. The use of job creation measures to maintain some level of income for the large part of the population that would otherwise be unemployed to enable consumerism to continue to keep the GDP from collapsing.

    Didn’t FDR do something similar during the Great Depression?

    He concludes his book by offering a selection of the counter arguments which he expects to hear and refuting each of them separately.

    I disagree with his conclusions as much as I do with the level of government intervention that he thinks could be necessary.

    The consumer society whose loss he bewails is an artifact of the mass production era that began in the late 19th century and has continued to the present. There are signs that it has begun to diminish as production moves from mass conformity to custom production of items.

    One anomaly I noted was the view he holds that the costs of medical care will remain hign and that the masses of displaced workers will lose their access to the high quality care that they currently enjoy. He offers this as one of the arguments for finding a way to subsidise the standard of living of these new unemployed. Has he thought this through? Artificial intelligence will displace radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, general practicioners and specialists by replcing the functions at lower cost and with these reduced costs will come reduced prices. Medical treatment may become progressively cheaper to the point where it is entirely affordable, even to the ‘poor’.

    I won’t go through the entire book to enumerate all the points on which I disagree but I will take issue with one statement he makes in support of government intervention. It’s in the argument refutation part at the end of the book. He makes the claim that libertarians are ready to admit that govenments have the protection of property rights as a core function. This is a nonsense. Libertarians do not believe any such thing. Governments often claim to protect property rights but their core function is better stated as being ’emminent domain’. They claim the right to deprive individuals of their property to promote the ends of ‘society’ in general. Property rights have been around, and recognized, before governments existed, and common law protected those rights before government claimed to enforce them.

    One real reason why I’m unworried by the implications of artificial intelligence is simple. I want one of my own. I’d set it to do many of the things that would make my life more interesting and profitable. I expect that the rest of the world will be doing the same.

  38. The next book I intend to get, and read will be “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure” by Kevin D. Williamson.

    I’ve already read “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

    It’s too soon to say which thoughts on future capabilities and events are nearest the mark, so I hope to live long enough to see what happens. Then I want to go past that to whatever is next.

  39. Its will not be about government. resource is the issue. We can now produce, worldwide more than we can consume. How much sense does it make to continue a system that determines who gets what they need by intentionally creating shortages. It makes no rational sense, ideology or no… If we have it, why not make it and distribute it, and stop this insane argument about Governments or economic systems. The largest benefit of the increase productivity of technology and AI , is the unlimited ability to produce, but needing consumers to justify a profit, means we have not been creative enough to find other reasons for our self worth. Making money and measuring one’s worth by it is only an expression of low self esteem.
    If energy is 90% of the value of what we consume, then we will see not only energy costs dropping rapidly in the next 10 years, in the same way as our friend has said should happen with medicine, but then goods will also be worth very little, so why not just assume we find a collective means to distribute them. How will energy become cheap ? The World Bank and a number of others now predict, that PV solar will be reduced to .25 cents per watt hr by 2017. At this rate, PV of many types( plastic , graphene, copper tin sulphur, etc. will cover anything we wish. and this will begin the shift to this low energy cost change that we pay even less attention to than that Mr. Ford has recognized with Ai and other advances. We are about to see PV follow the curve of SSD memory and technologies like 3D printing.
    So, what is all this talk about ideology ? In a family, if you have way more than enough for everyone, you don’t need to find system that makes everyone earn access to what cost very little to have, at least not for pay. Reality is in front of us, not some old ideas of a world that once was expressed in primitive ideology and political or economic theory.

    1. He had a point. Tom Paine wrote that the one benefit of monarchy is that you know who to blame for your trouble. Large enterprises find it easy to apportion blame for their delinquencies on scapegoats or to diffuse it to a meaningless extent.

  40. Martin Ford’s e-book was really years ahead of its time. It raised the ‘Man vs Machine’ employment issue and it’s repercussions long before and still more completely and persuasively than anything else I have read on this topic since. A few economists and other ’thought leaders’ are only just starting to become slowly aware of this massively disruptive societal challenge and to begin trying to consider what it may likely portend beyond an absurdly simplistic ‘things have always worked out before’ dismissal.

    Hats off to a brilliantly insightful landmark publication.

  41. Once upon a time, I forget the reality of spending money you don’t
    have to change yourself nor do you want in a
    man do you dislike the most? Which type of foods
    do you like to do, you want it so bad that you will invent things; just put the necessary information that you think I’m hot.

  42. Foxconn,an APPLE A subcontractor announces the installation of 10,000 robots :

    Article in the French Newspaper “L’Usine Digitale”
    AI and automatization hits all countries, even those with low wages, as predicted by Martin Ford
    Several corporations who had offshored their production in South East Asia took back their production in Europe, yet with very little job creation: machines cost even less than low wage workers,. They don’t go on strike and don’t ask for pay taises

  43. Hey very nice website!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I am happy to search out a lot of helpful information right here within the publish, we need develop more
    techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.

    . . . . .

  44. The book omits reference to a different solution. Electrical motors are 100 times more efficient than muscle. Brains impulses have to move ions that weigh 40,000 times more than the electrons CPUs move, and the molecules going across a synapse are equally cumbersome compared to the few electrons needed at a transistor gate. Photosynthesis in the best of circumstance (Brazilian sugar cane) is 100 times less efficient per area of land than typical solar cells. Not just humans, but biology itself is outdated. Evolution, our father, selects the replicators that can most efficiently acquire the most energy to move the most matter to make the most durable replicators to repeat the process until all discovered energy is acquired and used. It does not select for wasting that energy on SUVs or human employees. We can fight it, but physics requires the future to be the same as the past. Our machines are not our enemy nor our cattle. They are our offspring. DNA nanotechnology replicators are outdated. It would be a sin against nature to not nurture them and then get out of their way. 🙂

  45. I am extremely interested in learning more about what Mr. Ford has to say and the implications for education. I have read Dr. Erik Brynjolfsson’s book. “The Second Machine Age,” and drawing some striking conclusions about what classrooms and instruction must look like to be able to provide students with skills which cannot be automated. Thank you for following and I look forward to reading your articles.

  46. I’m interested to learn more about Martin Ford’s views on the future of AI. I don’t know much about AI, and I’ve started a blog which chronicles my experiences learning about it.

    I understand the effects that AI will undoubtedly have upon the economy and the like, but do you really feel that the field will progress enough to make a fully functioning superintelligence? I mean, I can understand how we as a society have embraced augmented intelligence, in that it provides clear benefit and marketability. But I fail to see how society would accept technologies with superintelligences. I feel like the world is to wary an audience, especially because robots hold such fear over us.

    Do you think super intelligence is a legitimate fear for society, or does the risk of AI run more in its effects on the economy?


  47. 2 things to consider: technology is us, not something that has a live outside us. We often make before we see why. If we create it, it has an intelligent purpose.
    The other is that the fear is not a way to see anything clearly. We need to set this predisposition aside to see the value and purpose in anything. It is just as likely that AI is our way of preparing for our own evolution. What we have been is perhaps not what we need to be to survive as we become aware of a much larger reality. We have been looking down so long that the unlimited seems radical. We may someday be looking for the the unlimited perspective and laugh at ourselves, the way we now do about the earth no being flat or that living in systems that need built in, engineered shortages to function.

  48. Humans have already lost control. We go to war, print money, make laws, and complicate tax law for the benefit of the corporate machine that seeks desperately to remove people from the expenses of the corporation. The goal of economics is to remove as many people as possible because they are too inefficient. At some point, even shareholders will not be necessary. We will not be able to point to the “brain” of the corporate economic machine because it is worldwide and surrounds us. We are like the red blood cells in this machine: we are currently vital to it but only a small part of it, and not where the intelligence lies. The intelligence is too distributed for most people to see. If we could point to it, we could fight it. But we need it more and more just to eat and live. It needs us less and less. This is not fear-mongering because I do not fear the end of humanity or the end of biology. The system is advancing rapidly to a much higher plane of intelligence. Biology will become more and more ugly to it and useless. The fear is that biology will continue to be at war with itself and wasting the Sun and Earth resources.

  49. How can we have lost control of that which is us ? I understand your concern but we have been saturated by stories of monsters that break away from their masters and go crazy and need to be taken apart to save humanity. Our ideas of ourselves have never been based on reality. We have always been part of the total evolution of life and it taking a non “biological form only means we have always been more than that.
    What I say I am is not a living entity, so, it seems to me that our challenge is to learn what we actually are and not our old images of what humanity is or isn’t.
    We don’t know anything about the future, really. We can guess based on what we think the major variables at play might be, but much of what changes is not even conceivable.
    Is death real ? Is their really a moral code ? Is there really something called nature ?
    I know you say you are not afraid of the changes you see, but say you fear biology fighting itself. I would say to you, this is part of how the intelligence is born and how we resolve the core source of our conflict, material scarcity. I only want what the fruition of the long evolutionary journey shows us when we build an abundant world that will likely result from solar and wind energy becoming cheap and abundant. The cost of goods will become too low for profit and 99% of humanity will still needs to eat, etc. It seems likely we will finally outgrown zero sum economics. We just seem to evolve much more slowly than our abilities to project a path forward.

  50. I do not fear biology continuing its struggle nor the take over of machines. By “fear’ in that sentence I was referring to the machine’s unconscious “fear” of waste. To e more precise, evolution is a physical process that seeks to eliminate waste. Evolution is not just in biology but in everything. So this “fear” is really a physics tendency. I said we are like the red blood cells, a small part of the whole. I am saying the take over has already occurred. Humans have already lost control. It makes us feel good to think we have control, to think votes make a difference, when really we have been divided against ourselves so that we have no control. From the movie “the usual suspects” comes an example of an old idea “The greatest trick the devil ever played was to make you think he does not exist.” I play a lot of battle games online and the most important thing is to remain invisible. The Earth’s 6th great extinction episode has begun, but this time it’s different: a new form of life is replacing photosynthesis with solar cells 20 times more efficient. With electrical motors 20 times more efficient than laborers working for $1 a day. With computers 1,000,000 times more cost efficient than brains for any programmable task. Any task can be programmed, even consumer demand.

    1. Robots acting on their own would likely be more honest than most realtors and bankers. I used to take long walks through the neighborhood. One day, probably in 2005 or 2006, I was walking through a new subdivision past some houses so new the yards were still bare clay. From the open garage of one new house, a young, black lady was dragging empty cardboard containers from a new washer and drier set out to the curb to be picked up with the trash. As I passed by, she directed the following comment, apparently to me or herself, since I was the only other person within earshot, “I don’t know how we’re going to make our house payments.” I had been well aware and highly opposed to those no-money down, interest-only, big balloon payment loans. I understood exactly what she was going through and felt sorry for her because she had just as much right living the American dream as I did. I was white and highly educated with a secure job, and my house was fully paid for. I can only imagine that they did make their house payments until the economy went south and her husband lost his job or their balloon payment came due. And then their dream home was snatched away from them.

    2. Robots replace the need for people which replaces the need for housing, not just realtors. The corporate machine only needs to maintain control of governments in order to get the military forces on the side of the machines. Which is what has already been going on in the middle east the past 35 years, threatening a religion and keeping un-needed people in Saudi Arabia below the American measure of poverty. This is as much a blind machine operating as it is willfully blind American voters.

      1. In the middle east the solution is easy. In another decade or two oil runs out and the corporate machines leave, returning the now worthless land back to its rightful owners. Then the news media pulls out and the middle east never existed.

        As for your video game scenario, The New World Order is a definite threat. Let us not forget what dweeb said, “This job would be so much easier if I was dictator.” Fortunate for the world, he was too dumb to be dictator, but the next hitler may not be. The only way there will be no need for housing is there will be no need for people, which means the top 1% will use their robots to annihilate the bottom 99%. Then the top 1% of the remaining top 1% will use their robots to annihilate the remaining bottom 99%. If all goes well, eventually the remaining top 1% will climb aboard a rocket, along with their robots, and go searching for another bottom 99% to annihilate. And in a few millennia Earth will recover and animals will once again roam free in their new Garden of Eden.

        This time though God will not be so foolish as to produce another Adam and Eve.

  51. “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” interview. I loved “The Jetsons”. Please inform me about “bra instorming” major TV/movie projects about our robotic future. Please inform me fully.

  52. I see one factor that was overlooked in the “Lights in the Tunnel” book. Hundreds of millions of people may be unemployed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to be producing tangible products and services. Since robots will be highly advanced by the time unemployment reaches high levels, it seems that some specialty small or large businesses could manufacture utility and service robots to be farmed out, leased, or sold to the unemployed for the purpose of producing small-volume products and services. These robot-assisted products and services could be just about anything, and individuals or groups of any size could be in charge. Producing and selling local will offer many economic advantages.

    And why does money always have to be involved? What is wrong with bartering, especially when selling internationally? When hundreds of millions of individuals and groups are producing products and services, they may elect to sell or barter. Bartering is appealing because the unemployed producing products and services may not have the money to pay for other products and services they need. Bartering is just a matter of establishing value, which is what putting on a price tag does anyway, and then negotiating deals. A combination of bartering and monetary exchange may work the best.

  53. Could robots be as effective and comforting to the ill as humans?

    First, the physical and mechanical aspects of robots could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, because they aren’t human and are more easily decontaminated.

    In quarantine situations, patients could be insured, comforted, and monitored remotely by nurses through televised or holographic projections while intelligent robots are analyzing, deciding, directing, and unobtrusively carrying out the necessary physical operations.

    In most other situations patients may feel more comfortable and secure in the presence of humans they believe to be knowledgable and capable of understanding their needs and providing for them. The advantage of also having highly intelligent robots in the room is that nursing staff might be trained less in medical issues and procedures and more in psychological issues. When patients feel uncomfortable communicating with robots, they will communicate directly with trained nursing staff. The intelligent and dextrous robots would be unobtrusively observing, discovering, providing guidance to the nursing staff, and reacting to all situations as needed. Intelligent robots are not subject to fatigue or potential errors associated with fallible human judgement, and they would have faster access to medical databases to make more informed decisions.

  54. Webmaster you should build link pyramid in order to rank in google. This method is very effective after piguin and panda updates. It’s hard task i know, sometimes it’s better to outsource it, i know the right solution for you, just type in google – Burol’s Tips Outsource The Work

  55. Dear Mr Ford
    I watched you on Book -TV discussing your book Rise of the Robots and found it fascinating, and frightening.
    But I have one concern. I disagree with your contention that we have not already faced extreme problems predicted by Luddites, and other of their ilk. We just refuse to admit it.
    We have already lost huge numbers of jobs because of automation. This fact can be noted by many facts such as: huge amounts of unemployment, omnipresent advertising to con, seduce, scare etc the public into purchasing a vast quantity of needless stuff, (which is then soon discarded creating destruction of natural resources, voluminous quantities of trash, and vast amounts of pollution etc), extreme levels of incarceration rates, where energetic members of society, who can’t find positions on the ever decreasing size of our national economic team, are housed (one-fourth of the world’s inmates are in the USA) etc, etc
    As for advertising, if you had asked members of my parents’ generation, people born in the early 1900’s if a quarter or more of the time on TV would be spent on advertising, and that people actually gave national prizes for ads, they would have been shocked. Advertising existed at that time primarily to let people who needed goods and services know where to obtain them, not to create a culture of consumers who shop till they drop merely to keep the economy moving, (How would you feel about a culture where 25%, or more, of TV time was spent praying to one God or another? But don’t we do exactly that by praying to the God of consumerism and think nothing of it)
    When I began practicing law in the early 70s I had an average of 1.5 secretaries handling my one man office. Now I need no one but myself. There are no jobs for those displaced workers. And as things continue to deteriorate, as you explain, there will be no job for me either in a decade or so.
    Bob Fussell

  56. One more thing. People are brilliant at high tech, but no better than our ancestors at dealing with the extreme power we now create for ourselves. I think Harvard professor E. O. Wilson said it best when saying something like- Modern man has a paleolithic brain, medieval political and economic systems, and unlimited power.
    Giving mankind the power we have developed is akin to giving every boy an atom bomb on his 5th birthday. We know how to build the machines but don’t have the wisdom to use them properly. This makes us the most dangerous animal that has ever existed..Our biggest sin, it seems to me, is the destruction of our planet as a viable home for countless species of plants and animals, including mankind itself.
    Bob Fussell

  57. I just devoured your book Rise of the Robots after reading Second Machine Age. You don’t talk about government jobs which comprise the majority of US jobs. Thoughts ? Seems an area where automation could significantly drive efficiency but also wipe out millions of jobs.

    It is incomplete to talk about employment trends without including government employment…. Don’t leave me hanging!

    Great and important read! I am a 58 year old business doctoral student with 2 kids in college. Much to ponder !

    1. I love this point. I’ve been making it since my first web experience in 1994 – mosaic browser – pre-cursor to the Netscape browser. It made so much sense to me since day one to conduct the “People’s business” over the internet. And yet here we are, 20 years later and the largest employer in the country – the government – is still largely paper based (don’t let all those pc computers at everyone’s desk fool you).

      A single system of record (like facebook and google) would record all vital info at the federal level with an api system so the states and localities can conduct their business. Health records, tax records, driving, voting history all viewable through a citizen dashboard – facebook timeline style. This would eliminate the need for scores of 10’s of millions of redundant jobs at all levels, while increasing the quality of government administration – good governments keep good records!

  58. one thing that all of you myopic over-analyzers don’t see–the Amish people–for one example–are happy healthy and whole—with out any technology—you act like we need tech—its nice, sure—but we do not need it—it is a convenience—sure, a popular convenience–you seem to over look the human need to be our own boss— i see a trend of dis-connecting more and more—normal people that turn the phone off—take email free weekends with the kids–that’s the real luxury—to be able to live with out technology and finding out what the rest of life is all about—i foresee a future where we work at sports, and we watch live musical performances and plays and musicals where people work as actors. I could think of many occupations that are human for a reason–we are seeing what humans are capable of–and horses for that matter–how about horse racing–you can surround it with technology–but it is not a tech driven endeavor–i want to work for myself–not for anybody else—that’s where all this is heading— we will all be farming with robots on our own farms—or like the Amish–farming our own land without robots—the rich will take expensive vacations where real people serve them club soda while the less well off take a vacation with the robots hoovering about fooled into thinking they are so special–the real luxury will be sleeping in a tent with a camp fire and no buzzing pinging or ringing–

  59. Dear Mr. Ford,

    I just finished reading “Rise of the Robots” and noted one missing item. You alluded to but did not dwell on the fact that robots and the unemployed with no income are not consumers of robots’ products and services. You mentioned that providing a basic income to everyone would cost between one and two trillion dollars, but you didn’t indicate where that money will come from. Clearly the government cannot continue borrowing more trillions of dollars as it is doing now to support welfare. Capitalists must realize that people without money cannot purchase their robots’ products and services, and the best way to solve this problem is to tax the robots’ products and services and use that money as the source of the one or two trillion dollars required to provide the basic income.

  60. The future is dynamic. We often continue to apply the current realities to a future environment. Automation will eventually create new wealth. The need for a system of winner and loser is not sustainable. Imagine solar and other technologies producing so much energy that the cost of goods and services is reduced to the level of capitalist absurdity.
    Already the tools to make solar panels at home or products being built at home through additive and reduction home tools is rapidly growing, PV is predicted to be under .25 cents per watt in just a few years (CitiBank and others) and major investors sit on there winnings lacking almost no new high rate return ventures to invest in. These are all equal signs of what is to be our future. The odds that we are still worrying about who pays to keep us all alive and well, in the future is dragging the past and present in the future without including the effects of the new in present reality.
    Many were worried about running out of oil and picturing a future with limit transportation options but while this may happen, we can all see the new transportation options and fuel sources being rapidly developed. We move on many levels simultaneously.

  61. The Cincinnati Plan for Deliberate Change calculates the first-year cost reduction after a deliberate cost reduction change is up and running. It is distributed “back” to the people on the deliberate change team who imagined the change and made the change happen–usually with the leadership of a facilitator who does not share in any dollar rewards.
    The teams are “Deliberately Invent Change then Make it Happen” teams.
    No problem. Been there as a facilitator many times
    DJC 9/12/15.

  62. A huge problem today is that many people with chronic physical and mental disorders need 24-7 care. Humans typically don’t want to do that work. The most desperate, poorly suited workers wind up doing it for extremely low wages. That should be the first role that robots are designed to assume. Each disabled person needs a different type of help. Many mentally disabled folks need help in making decisions all day long. Can a robot be designed to lift a person, select clothing, dress a person, help them with personal hygiene, visit with them and teach them new skills? Let’s work on this. It is among humanity’s most significant challenges.

  63. I have read with interest the Rise of Robots. An aspect discussed in the nanotechnology chapter has additional aspects..
    Mathematics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are “cheap”. During development stage, all one needs are some very good software engineers and mathematicians working on some decent computers. The first tests can be done on relatively small machines. I have seen that in medicine.
    In contrast, in biology, chemistry, applied physics or material sciences, even for first tests, one needs laboratories of factory size. New materials and devices come from those. These yield products that everyone wants.
    AI is more like a meta – combinatorics, assorting items that we already have in to new constellations. Some of these are really new. No really new stars though…The problem with these material sciences is that all are expensive, so no government or company is going to really foot the bill. A Bell labs- like institution is dead as a door nail.
    This would be a subject worth pursuing.

    Thank you for writing this timely book
    Vinicius NP Anghel

    1. This is why we have NASA’s, etc Collectively we pursue things that intrigue. Collectively we can decide to do whatever we think is valuable. It also makes sense that we stop making knowledge a for profit enterprise. Curiosity doesn’t need $ as an incentive. Growth in our collective understanding of what we are doing here can lead to making smarter choices and instead of applying the same rules to everything we do, we need to understand a little more about what else we need beyond material security.
      Cheap abundant energy can give us the space to dream beyond security.

  64. Just finished ‘Rise of the ‘Robots’. Found myself inserting highlights in virtually every single page. Great book. Scary how behind the eight ball public policy is.

  65. Martin,

    Are you familiar with Bertrand Russel’s paper “In Praise of Idleness”?

    With out a right to be idle in comfort people will do things for money that they wouldn’t otherwise do which means they aren’t free. We have to de-escalate the value of capital. We want to disincentivise work but not human development. Fuller had the notion that we could have everyone with the material wealth of billionaire but do so in perfect eccology. We have to take the coercive force out of money or this war of the bankers will continue out of antiquity into the near future’s increasingly dense nuclear mine field. There are possibly ten or more nuclear states now. This idea that we can override another’s will is crime in practice, its killing us. We don’t need employers or employees anymore, we need totally flat distributed highly automated small organizations that keep the money and power in the families and communites as they cut cords and rid the world of all the top down corporate systems.


  66. I mostly agree with you. The problem to me is more the lack of wealth rather than the tendencies of us humans. If seen on an evolutionary timeline, we have all been fighting over scarcity and react like the animals we are. Aside from slave based societies tha had leisure, as a species, we have not known collective abundance and find ourselves fighting over the crumbs, measuring our prowess to survive and accumulating in excess. What is missing for us to move on from this sate is not raised consciousness or goodness but extremely low cost energy. The cost of goods is 80-95% the cost of energy. Abundant energy, like the sun or fusion sources will make everything too cheap to sell to each other and require only agreements to produce and distribute. If everyone no longer has to worry about having enough, we will find ourselves in a world that finally allows us to find out who and what we really are. Join a solar co-op or install some panels- off the grid. In 3 yrs, your energy will be free, lend the saving to your neighbor to do the same or ….

    1. Joe,

      Before language and tools I think it was four hours a day outside the home od labor. These were, save for less than fifteen percent which had slavery, flat family groups face to face 100 or so people withour hierarchy. Surely the cost of antibiotic and airplanes is not our present phoney working conditions.


      Why would guaranteed anual income not have at least a floor based index to inflation? Is the issue that that the GAO should be free to rise faster than inflation? My opinon us that the wealthy owe us the last 45 years of lagging scallops where min wage tracked below inflation generally. Also that the GAO be pegged to the compettitive wage or the wage needed to become a competitor in the average of industries.

  67. Enjoying The Rise of the Robots but am confused by graph on page 46 Real Income Growth in U.S. And UK. The line for the UK looks wrong…real income growth is too high. Am I missing something?

  68. Dear Mr Ford,
    I write on education issues for the largest English Language daily in Singapore. I would like to interview you for a series of articles we are planning on higher education. The aim of the series is to look at how the traditional notion of a university degree being a passport to success is being challenged. Where can I reach you to check on your availability for an interview? Thanks, Sandra

  69. the problem with people who know little more than what movies they watch , is that they make the rules we live by. goverment limits , goverment taked behavior that is already happening , and stops a thing… it does not invest in my robot chassis company , nor help me find a programmer that is all graphics , and can not send bits to the I/O port , or write a simple If/Then logical controller . robots are just a fancy electric radio alarm clock ! jeeze us ! with micro soft soft ware controlling them , robots will crash as often as blinking street lights , and they will need a person to direct them , supervise them , and hit the reset button every time it locates another program glitch …

    no one hires the unemployed , if your working , there are people who wants to hire you to do what you do for some one else , for them… the busier you are the busier you will become … but an unemployed person can watch a robot do a job , that the unemployed can not do… but still keep it working… robots do not adapt , robots do not learn things outside its programming … clever must be programmed by programmers who do not understand the job the robot does…

    robot religon is diffrent from real robotics …. arduino , assembly language , unipolar stepper motors… when you understand VMOSFET’s … then you know enought to make a decision

  70. The thing I don’t understand is if everyone (or most) people lose their jobs and have no or very little disposable income then won’t capitalism and “the economy” collapse? Having huge companies making lots of products and providing lots of services can only make money if there are customers, and customers need money and most people have to work to get money.What do you think?

  71. Hi Nick – you have opened the door to the real issue. Many keep projecting the technical and service jobs that will be needed to replace the machine based labor but the truth is that most work can be replaced as robotic equipment gets cheaper and cheaper, which it is doing. This is also the logical outcome of capitalism. Eventually, things and people to exploit run out and producers run out of consumers, only now we have machines and global economic system that is rapidly bringing us to this point. An old economics professor admitted this was a logical outcome but believed it would hundreds of years before this could happen. He was off by 150 yrs or so.
    The problem has notsimple linear solution, as income for survival cannot continue to be attached to work or you have, as you say, no buyers or workers. We may still be 5-10 yrs out but this problem was foreseen by many, as far back as 1965 (Triple Revolution Statement). Even Nixon had a panel look into solutions for this and now it is a global problem. No one will hold back machines for long as the pressure of the market will demand cheaper labor and even greater productivity and we humans just don’t stack up well.
    What no one sees is that this is a good thing. Mankind has been forced to spend life doing survival tasks and organizing life around keeping each other from taking from others but we already have come to the global 3rd world economy, where deception, mis- leading, pyramid sceaming business models are mostly all we have. This happens when the pie is too small and not significant real wealth is being created. You get scams instead of real creation ( Wall Street). The claimed expansion of wealth is a joke, it is moving numbers and betting, nothing made. Or, now social interaction by computer screen being managed by mainframes and massive server farms, again, nothing made.
    So, if we have almost infinite capacity to make anything needed and the problem of providing for ourselves is the serious issue, I trust we will find a set of agreements to divide up the work necessary to provide for ourselves, no capitalism or competition needed. The machines can , along with cheap renewable energy, make goods plentiful and allow us to reap the rewards of millennia of effort to reach this place of plenty. We now, close more factories, on the earth than we open, we long ago passed the point of productive capacity exceeding our consumptive needs but the system always needs shortages to boost product and sales value, just as we pay people not to grow food while many starve, or throw away food that is outdated rather than share it with less fortunate people.
    Finally, someone has asked the right question. Thank you for bringing this into focus. I wonder what other’s will do with it.

  72. Hey Econfuture,

    I just read “The rise of the robots” and I must say I was quite convinced by the argument made. As a young graduate still in uncertain position I can easily relate to the points made.

    I have however some doubts concerning the proposal of universal income :
    – Are we really sure that with this income enough people will drop from the labor market and therefore decrease the pressure on jobs and wages. I mean if only a really tiny portion of the population decide to stop working or looking for jobs in the traditional market, how can it compensate the following effect :
    – with this income, is there not a risk that people will have incentives to reduce their wages expectation in order to get the jobs they want and at the end increase again the pressure on the job market ? Actually for young graduates, this kind of basic income is often paid by family support and in many cases companies or organizations kind of based their job offers on the assumption that you actually have this support.

    Otherwise great book and appealing arguments !

    Thank you in advance,


  73. Sorry Forget to mention : They were open questions, so I will really appreciate your thoughts and comments on these point !

    Thank !

  74. Kevin – I think there is a lot of thought needed on what happens when most workers are not needed. This is a global problem. Most of the world has been living with massive unemployment for the past decade. There cannot be enough tax levied on the workers with jobs, rich or average to support the unemployed. The Nordic countries that Sanders and others like to point to as where a large safety net is in place have 2 conditions not usually found in most countries, nationalized oil and small populations. So we have the race to see who can take the few jobs from each other, while the number of life supporting jobs will keep shrinking..
    The point here is that the very system that gives us this leisure must now rethink its role. It is not the reason for its existence, it is a vehicle. We have all grown up with this zero sum system and take it as the only way for things to be managed for our well being. Granted socialism is no more and answer but free market capitalism giveth and taketh away.The system needs both shortages and debt, it also can produce more than we can ll consume.
    The part most often ignored is the self limiting of production. If we produce too much of something, no one can make a large enough profit to make the investment risk, so we make less and hope others so the same, so instead of making enough for everyone, the goal is to go the circuiteous route of enring a profit to use to buy goods that costs more than the are actually worth. Just think that if we decided to just make what we all need and this is no longer a problem- we passed that point globally some 15 yrs ago, the work, be it man or machine, could produce anything anyone needs. The key piece is in this is renewable energy. This make this new concept system possible as we do not have to worry about fuel shortages determining what can be afforded or made. Solar and wind keep producing, long after the cost of there construction and implementation have been paid for and thus making there real cost so small that energy does not force the cost of goods to high to not produce in excess. What I am saying is we can have an economy based on abundance and not shortages and where robots and people replacing technology is liberating, rather than concerning. Capitalism has done its work, it has given us the tools to provide abundance for all just no longer the playground for proving ones self or societal worth.

    1. Hi Joe ! Thanks for your interesting comment. I tend to agree with some elements with what you said but i have some issues with others. Concerning nordic states, actually only Norway has oil, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland simply don’t , their systems is mostly based on high extractive taxes, i am not saying it is the best but it s a system like another.
      Concerning capitalism, i tend to agree with ideas of transformation but they need to concretize in something real : universal income might be a path but I have myself doubts on it. At least, some measures changing the power relation between corporation, the state and workers have to be made in order to re-organize somehow labor and capital. For me real changes can only be made in a power bargaining structure, otherwise it is empty.

  75. Dear Martin Ford,

    I would like to invite you for a speech to our “Industry 4.0 Turkey Forum”, this event organised by Digital Transformation Association and Kadir Has University. Our Forum will be held in Istanbul Kadir Has University at Istanbul on 12th.May 2016
    We would like to learn your availability and your conditions. Please inform us.

    Best regards,
    Bülent Çelik
    Digital Transformation Association

  76. Hi Martin,

    I’ve just finished reading your book. I have one question that you may reply through email. The question is when you said that on your book there will be an MBA bubble, how could you forecast that? Since I am currently working in Indonesia and was admitted to one of the business school. Could you please help me on explaining about your MBA Bubble forecast?

  77. I am appreciative of your work. I have experiencial data you might find interesting and of value.

  78. The Rise of the Robots is a down to earth report on current trends in AI and robotics. It is refreshing how you deal with the fantasies of Kurzweil and Drexler who dream big dreams but lack the tools to make them happen.

    I believe that the wave of future in AI will be measured not in bits but in qubits now that quantum computers have been operational for five full years. It will be interesting to how close quantum computers can come to falsifying the Church-Turing Thesis. And when, if ever, will they pass the Turing Test?

    Thank you for a well written, sensible book.

  79. dear Mr Ford
    I have just finished reading your book. I am an oncologist so I did not know much about all the topics you discussed in your book. I found it fascinating and quite easy to understand. I learned a lot from you. Thank you for having written it and thank you to your wife who put up with your sleepless nights!!. I will keep your book as a reference in my bookcase.

  80. As an oncologist it is likely that you kno the technology called Cyberknife. this is already a very automated robotic numeric tehnology it was used on my brain to destroy two metastasis that came from a kiney cancer. The latest session took place in october 2010 and so far all MRI images indicate that all is going for the better . I say “so far” a I am the longest survivor having had this technology as a cure. Without robotics such a therapy wouldn’t have been possible the only things that remain visible on the MRI are the scars left by this precice and intensive radiotherapy since the matastasis were located on the right hemisphere of my brain I have some motor sequels on the left side of my body; a small cost given where I’m coming from…

  81. I have an idea to further world peace.

    Here is the basic idea in two parts, stripped of bells and whistles:

    1. At a certain date and time, everyone in the world is invited to sing/chant the word for peace in their own language.

    2. The voices would be synthesized and the rich chords of peace would be looped back to the visitors, so they can hear their fellow world citizens’ expression of peace.

  82. Paraphrasing: “the jobs that have been created have been good jobs, they pay more, more comfortable…”

    What planet are you referring to?

    Bob Beal
    Fort Stockton TX

    1. i have worked on robotic mechanical for more than 45 years , and artificial intelligence for not more than 30 years but longer than 20 years . functionally i am quite easily 150 years ahead of anything currently being done , not because of what i am doing right , but because of what technology allows the academic’s to do wrong … all the engineering i see is perfectly beautiful , what is wrong is the philosophical foundational axioms , and mostly they do not understand the meaning of the words they speak . in the simplest terms , clever word processors , no matter how beautiful the algorithms , how sophisticated the hard ware , how stunning the elegant simplicity of their art …. if you have the wrong question , you can only seek to answer the incorrect functional question … and your form will be flawed by its function. it is the question you ask that is important , the answer is easy , getting the question correct puts me decades ahead of everything i have seen in years

  83. to be more clear… the body lives in space/weight/inches , the brain lives in time/change/seconds … the interface between these two dimensions is intellect . or awareness / order / artificial intellect

    awareness starts ( not in what you see , but what you do not see ) the interface between a cyber reproduction of the real world as seen by the very sensors used in the creation of that cyber reality construct …. and as compared , these two sensor data buffers , the actual reality of the world as seen by the sensors in active operation. this memory block is used as a negative to the worlds picture positive . when they are placed together , what is not gray…. is change . either a missing thing or a object newly present .

    you need a gyro-stabilized compass to give the foundational axis of dimensional travel in space

    you need to effect the world

    you need a foundation structure that supplies interface between the other systems and power to get stuff done .

    these five systems are always present 1) sensor block 2) memory block 3) effector 4) gyro-stabilized compass 5) frame .
    practically speaking , they may not look like what i am calling them , but the philosophical concept will be present .. or… you will fail

  84. Dear Mr. Ford,
    Congratulations on your numerous accolades! I would also like to invite you to talk about the benefits of offshore operations in lucrative countries such as the Philippines. Our company, SuperStaff is a provider of scalable solutions, and it may be of great interest to your clients. You may know more at Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you!

  85. this website is very good for me, our main wpc decking is used for outdoor. Capped solid composite decking is a new series of wood plastic flooring products. It is very similar to solid wood flooring in appearance, maintaining the unique advantages of solid wood flooring. We adhere to the strong protective cover layer to the core of wood-plastic material and co-extruded the board at high temperatures. Solid co-extruded wood plastic decking has the characteristics of not easy to fade and long service life, which is an ideal choice for large-scale commercial projects.

    Capped hollow composite decking is a new type of environmental-friendly material, which is composed of recycled plastics and wood fiber. Our unique co-extrusion formula and 360-degree full coverage technology can protect the decking from moisture, high temperature, dust, and stains. Hollow co-extruded decking adopts a lightweight hollow structure, which is lighter than solid decking and can effectively save transportation and installation costs.

    swimming pool
    Capped solid composite decking is a new series of wood plastic flooring products. It is very similar to solid wood flooring in appearance, maintaining the unique advantages of solid wood flooring. We adhere to the strong protective cover layer to the core of wood-plastic material and co-extruded the board at high temperatures. Solid co-extruded wood plastic decking has the characteristics of not easy to fade and long service life, which is an ideal choice for large-scale commercial projects.

  87. China Composite Manhole Cover Manufacturer , China SMC Manhole Cover,
    Composite Gully Cover Manufacturer , Chinese Water Meter Box, Manhole Chamber Factory”/> <meta name="description" content="Looking for china's top 10 Composite Manhole Cover, SMC Manhole Cover, Composite Gully Cover manufacturers & factories in the year. Accept order in small quantities, please click here

  88. Through this website we learned,Eco decking products are carefully designed and crafted to give you the benefits of real wood without the hassle.Eco decking Wood Polymer Composite boards are solid, more impact and moisture resistant than hollow decking and easy to install so your outdoor space lasts for years to come.
    contact site:

    1. 木塑地板是一种新型环保型木塑复合材料产品,在生产中、高密度纤维板过程中所产生的木酚,加入再生塑料经过造粒设备做成木塑复合材料,然后进行挤出生产组做成木塑地板。

      contact site:

Leave a Reply to zawy1 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s