Luddites, like Ziggy, the Buffalo Bills, and Hamilton Burger, never seem to win. Thank god. But people freaking out about technology - whether it's President Obama arguing that ATMs and ticket kiosks at airports put people out of work or silly folks such as Kirkpatrick Sale literally raging against the machines - are a feature not a bug of civilization.
Here's Brookings Institution's Scott Winship setting the record straight on how technology helps make humans richer and more robust:
Technological development will surely eliminate some specific jobs. But there is little reason to think that the future will look any different from the past in this regard. Productivity gains in manufacturing and other sectors will lower the cost of goods and produce more discretionary income, which people will use to pay other people to do things for them, creating new jobs. Mass leisure will also create other kinds of jobs, such as those devoted to entertaining and informing each other. To the extent that the least-skilled need help, we will be in a much better position to afford safety nets, and our main concern will be the age-old one of discouraging dependency. To the extent that technology increases inequality much of it will be to reward innovators for finding ways to drive our workweek and retirement age down or to induce some to keep working 40-hour weeks.
I was going to post a clip of Star Trek's Capt. Kirk besting a computer by forcing it to "feel," but then settled on this fight scene, which makes a strong case for robot overlords that wouldn't allow this sort of thing.