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Robots Are Us: Some Economics of Human Replacement

Listed author(s):
  • Seth G. Benzell
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Guillermo Lagarda Cuevas
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs

Will smart machines do to humans what the internal combustion engine did to horses { make them obsolete? If so, will putting people out of work or, at least, good work leave them unable to buy what smart machines produce? Our model says yes. Under the right conditions, more supply produces less demand over time as the smart machines undermine their customer base. As a consequence, everyone ends up worse. Highly tailored redistribution policies can keep smart machines from immiserating our posterity. But blunt policies, such as mandating open-source technology, can make matters worse.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank in its series IDB Publications (Working Papers) with number 8590.

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Date of creation: Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:8590
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