Machines, he fears, will take away all the jobs. Roubini notes that despite dire predictions about “the end of work” the U.S. unemployment rate has averaged pretty much five per cent ever since —albeit with occasional cyclical deviations.
Manufacturing jobs have disappeared as industrial machines have become ever more productive. But our employment bacon has been saved by services, the growing demand for which has soaked up the resulting supply of willing workers.
But what if the machines learn how to do services, as now seems to be happening?
Roubini notes: “It becomes possible to imagine a future where the top 100 economists in the world … can provide high-quality and cheap online courses in their field. Those changes, however, would mean displacing the jobs of hundreds of thousands of other economics professors in the process.”