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Will Robots Take Your Job? Automaton, Inequality, Full Employment and Law (Presentation Slides)

24 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017  

Ewan McGaughey

King's College London - School of Law

Date Written: July 13, 2017


Will the internet, robotics and artificial intelligence mean a ‘jobless future’? A recent narrative says tomorrow’s technology will fundamentally differ from cotton mills, steam engines, combine harvesters or washing machines. Automation will be less like post-war demobilisation for soldiers, and more like the car for horses. Driverless vehicles will oust truckers and taxi drivers. As hyper-intelligent clouds oust financial advisers, doctors, and journalists, we face an escalation of ‘natural’ unemployment. Government, it is said, must enact a basic income, because so many jobs will vanish. Also, maybe robots should become ‘electronic persons’, the subjects of rights and duties, so they can be taxed. This narrative is endorsed by a series of tech-billionaires, but it is severely mistaken. This article explains three views of the causes of unemployment: as ‘natural’, as stemming from irrational behaviour, or as legal policy. The evidence suggests that technology does not threaten jobs as much as law that enables people to restrict the supply of capital to the job market. This is driven by inequality of wealth, and votes in the economy. The narrative of mass unemployment, requiring a basic income, is a psychological attack on full employment, and fair incomes. Democratic governments can and should invest, educate and fairly distribute economic gains to guarantee full employment, fair incomes, innovation and prosperity. This will happen with democratic voice in capital, votes at work, and votes in the economy. The owners of the robots will not take your job, if we defend economic democracy.

Keywords: Robots, automation, inequality, law, unemployment, basic income, NAIRU, sheep, Luddites, washing machines, flying skateboards

Suggested Citation

McGaughey, Ewan, Will Robots Take Your Job? Automaton, Inequality, Full Employment and Law (Presentation Slides) (July 13, 2017). Available at SSRN:

Ewan McGaughey (Contact Author)

King's College London - School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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