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Human Work in the Robotic Future

Policy for the Age of Automation

A humanoid robot works alongside an employee on an assembly line in Kazo, Japan, July 2015. Issei Kato / REUTERS

The promises of science fiction are quickly becoming workaday realities. Cars and trucks are starting to drive themselves in normal traffic. Machines have begun to understand our speech, figure out what we want, and satisfy our requests. They have learned to write clean prose, generate novel scientific hypotheses (that are supported by later research), compose evocative music, and beat us, quite literally, at our own games: chess, poker, and even go.

This technological surge is just getting started, and there’s much more to come. For one thing, the fundamental building blocks that launched it will continue to improve rapidly. The costs of processing, memory, bandwidth, sensors, and storage continue to fall exponentially. Cloud computing will make all these resources available on demand across the world. Digital data will become only more pervasive, letting us run experiments, test theories, and learn at an ever-greater scale. And the billions of humans

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