For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor"

by Acemoglu, Daron; Restrepo, Pascual (2019)


We present a framework for understanding the effects of automation and other types of technological changes on labor demand, and use it to interpret changes in US employment over the recent past. At the center of our framework is the allocation of tasks to capital and labor—the task content of production. Automation, which enables capital to replace labor in tasks it was previously engaged in, shifts the task content of production against labor because of a displacement effect. As a result, automation always reduces the labor share in

Key Passage

[C]ontrary to a common presumption in popular debates, it is not the “brilliant” automation technologies that threaten employment and wages, but “so-so technologies” that generate small productivity improvements. This is because the positive productivity effect of so-so technologies is not sufficient to offset the decline in labor demand due to displacement.  (p.10)


Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Technology, Labor Demand, Worker Replacement


Future of Work, Employment, Automation

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