Will Robots Lead to Widespread Joblessness and Economic Inequality?

Martin Ford and Antony Sammeroff debate the future of robotics and its potential economic impacts at the Soho Forum.


Robotics will soon lead to widespread joblessness and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.

That was the resolution of a public debate hosted by the Soho Forum in New York City on January 6, 2020. It featured New York Times bestselling author Martin Ford, arguing the affirmative, versus Antony Sammeroff, spokesperson on economics and environment for the Scottish Libertarian Party. Soho Forum Director Gene Epstein moderated.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, with many "undecided." The side that gains the most ground is victorious. Sammeroff prevailed in the debate by convincing 19.64 percent of audience members to come over to his side. Ford picked up 2.68 percent. 

Ford is the author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Architects of Intelligence: the Truth about AI from the People Building It, and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future.

Sammeroff, who argued for the negative, is the author of Universal Basic Income: For and Against and co-host of the Scottish Liberty Podcast.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Produced by John Osterhoudt.

Photo: Right robot, Photo 144080417 © Boris Medvedev—

Photo: Left robot, Photo 141519784 © Kittipong Jirasukhanont—