You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Ideas

Will a robot take your kid’s job?

A troubling new study suggests technology will mean downward mobility—especially for the young.

They don’t necessarily look like we thought they would, but the robots are already among us. They give us directions when we’re driving. By 2015, Governor Deval Patrick recently announced, they will collect all tolls in Massachusetts. Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, might as well be an early prototype for protocol droids like C-3PO of “Star Wars.” The drones America’s sending into battle could be precursors to the robot army that rises up against humankind.

As robots get smarter and more competent, will we benefit? Robot wars aside, economists, at least, have assumed the answer is yes. The less menial work humans need to do, the more we can focus on the creative and flexible work that humans excel at—jobs that involve talking, listening, selling, inventing, choosing, designing. Most textbook economic models economists learn in school assume that when new-fangled machines drive growth, everyone ultimately benefits.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week