How robots became a scapegoat for the destruction of the working class

Robots didn't destroy the safety net or workers' rights. They didn't even steal jobs.

A factory.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Hulton Archive/Getty Images, undefined undefined/iStock)

Should workers fear the robots? You don't have to look far to find lots of people shouting "yes."

Magazines and newspapers blare headlines like "Welcoming our new robot overlords," "When your new co-worker is a robot," and "You will lose your job to a robot — and sooner than you think." Studies suggest anywhere from 9 percent to 47 percent of American jobs could be automated in the next few decades. In 2017, Bill Gates proposed a "robot tax" to address the problem. Andrew Yang, a long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, puts the threat of mass joblessness due to automation at the center of his campaign — and he wants a universal basic income to deal with it.

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