Noted technological maven and futurist Ford (The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, 2009) returns with more reasons for working men and women to fear for their futures. Imagine a world in which the want ads, if they appear at all, simply read: "Humans Need Not Apply." That nightmarish scenario might be enough to cause all but the idle rich to lay awake at night. The most terrifying thing about the author's fearful forecast, however, is that this dystopian future—where shrewdly sophisticated and ruthlessly cost-effective robots eliminate the need for those anachronistic things once called "jobs"—sounds much more inevitable than incredible. For both scientific and economic reasons, which Ford outlines with a comprehensiveness that borders on chilling, there is simply no way in this relentlessly capitalist society to avoid being replaced by a robot. In the labor pyramid to come, even some of the lucky few occupying the white-collar pinnacle will not be safe. Ford's argument is frightening because it does not offer even a whiff of alarm or hysteria. Instead, the author's discourse feels as dispassionate and merciless as the circuitry silently running inside his subjects' metallically whirring bodies. Humankind's inescapable predicament appears so bleak that the only alternative to total societal collapse that Ford can identify is to fashion a system in which the great majority of the working class receives "a basic income guarantee." Elected officials—from President Barack Obama all the way down to a small-town mayor—may steadfastly bang the drum for more education and training as the way out of the unemployment morass, but Ford clearly demonstrates that free market forces and consumer demand (already on display in Amazon's increasingly automated warehouses) will soon make it nearly impossible to continue employing large numbers of human beings in the workplace. A careful and courageous examination of automation and its possible impact on society.
"As Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots, the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated...the human consequences of robotization are already upon us, and skillfully chronicled here." New York Times Book Review
"Mr. Ford lucidly sets out myriad examples of how focused applications of versatile machines (coupled with human helpers where necessary) could displace or de-skill many jobs.... His answer to a sharp decline in employment is a guaranteed basic income, a safety net that he suggests would both cushion the effect on the newly unemployable and encourage entrepreneurship among those creative enough to make a new way for themselves. This is a drastic prescription for the ills of modern industrializationills whose severity and very existence are hotly contested. Rise of the Robots provides a compelling case that they are real." Wall Street Journal
"Surveying all the fields now being affected by automation, Ford makes a compelling case that this is an historic disruptiona fundamental shift from most tasks being performed by humans to one where most tasks are done by machines." Fast Company
"Lucid, comprehensive and unafraid to grapple fairly with those who dispute Ford's basic thesis, Rise of the Robots is an indispensable contribution to a long-running argument." Los Angeles Times
"An alarming new book." Esquire
"[ Rise of the Robots is]about as scary as the title suggests. It's not science fiction, but rather a vision (almost) of economic Armageddon."
Frank Bruni, New York Times
"Makes clear the need to come to grips with ever more rapidly advancing technology and its effects on how people make a living and how the economy functions." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Compelling and well-written.... In his conception, the answer is a combination of short-term policies and longer-term initiatives, one of which is a radical idea that may gain some purchase among gloomier techno-profits: a guaranteed income for all citizens. If that stirs up controversy, that's the point. The book is both lucid and bold, and certainly a starting point for robust debate about the future of all workers in an age of advancing robotics and looming artificial intelligence systems." ZDNet
"I tip my hat to Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots, which is vacuuming up accolades and is recommended reading for IIF staff. Ford's analysis, in a somewhat crowded field of similar books, offers a sobering assessment of how technology (robotics, machine learning, AI, etc.) is reshaping labor markets, the composition of growth, and the distribution of income and wealth, and calls for enlightened political and policy leadership to address coming, accelerating disruptions and dislocations." Timothy Adam, Bloomberg Business
"Few captured the mood as well as Martin Ford in Rise of the Robots, the winner of the FT and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, which painted a bleak picture of the upheavals that would come as ever-greater numbers of even highly skilled workers were displaced by machines." Financial Times
"We are in an era of technological optimism but sociological pessimism. Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots captures why these shifts are related and what challenges this might pose to our conventional economic and social infrastructures." Andy Haldane, Bloomberg Business
"Robots, and their like, are on the rise. Their impact will be an important question in the next decade and beyond. Martin Ford has been thinking in this area before most others, so this book deserves very careful consideration." Lawrence Summers, President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University
"Whether you agree or not with the policy prescriptions put forward by [Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots and Anne-Marie Slaughter's Unfinished Business] these two well-written books, and quite a few will likely disagree, they are important reads for those wishing to better understand and influence the future."
Bloomberg Business, Mohamed El-Erian
"A thorough look at how far machines have come" Washington Post, Innovations blog
"Ford offers ideas on changes in social policies, including guaranteed income, to keep our economy humming and prepare ourselves for a more automated future." Booklist
"A careful and courageous examination of automation and its possible impact on society." Kirkus Reviews
"Ever since the Luddites, pessimists have believed that technology would destroy jobs. So far they have been wrong. Martin Ford shows with great clarity why today's automated technology will be much more destructive of jobs than previous technological innovation. This is a book that everyone concerned with the future of work must read." Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, co-author of How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life and author of the three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes
"Martin Ford has thrust himself into the center of the debate over AI, big data, and the future of the economy with a shrewd look at the forces shaping our lives and work. As an entrepreneur pioneering many of the trends he uncovers, he speaks with special credibility, insight, and verve. Business people, policy makers, and professionals of all sorts should read this book right awaybefore the 'bots steal their jobs. Ford gives us a roadmap to the future." Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor for the Economist and co-author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
"It's not easy to accept, but it's true. Education and hard work will no longer guarantee success for huge numbers of people as technology advances. The time for denial is over. Now it's time to consider solutions and there are very few proposals on the table. Rise of the Robots presents one idea, the basic income model, with clarity and force. No one who cares about the future of human dignity can afford to skip this book." Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget and Who Owns the Future?
"If the robots are coming for my job (too), then Martin Ford is the person I want on my side, not to fend them off but to construct a better world where we can allhumans and our machineslive more prosperously together. Rise of the Robots goes far beyond the usual fear-mongering punditry to suggest an action plan for a better future." Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, The Futures Initiative, The Graduate Center, CUNY
"[A] breathtaking new book on modern economics." Forbes.com
"[Ford's] a careful and thoughtful writer who relies on ample evidence, clear reasoning, and lucid economic analysis. In other words, it's entirely possible that he's right." Daily Beast
" Rise of the Robots is an excellent book. Fair-minded, balanced, well-researched, and fully thought through." Inside Higher Ed, Learn blog
"In Rise of the Robots, Ford coolly and clearly considers what work is under threat from automation." New Scientist
"If The Second Machine Age was last year's tech-economy title of choice, this book may be 2015's equivalent." Financial Times, Summer books 2015, Business, Andrew Hill
"Well written with interesting stories about both business and technology." Wired/Dot Physics