Joseph Nocera calls me on the phone

This is what he got:

On Friday, I called Tyler Cowen, the George Mason University economist (and a contributor to The New York Times) to ask what he thought about the relationship between technological innovation and jobs. He told me that he mostly agreed with Brynjolfsson and McAfee about the future, though he disagreed with their assessment of the past. (One of his recent books is titled “The Great Stagnation.”)

Yes, he said, technology would replace humans for certain kinds of jobs, but he could also envision growth in the service sector. “The jobs will be better than they sound,” he said. “A lot of them will require skill and training, and will also pay well. I think we’ll get to driverless cars and much better versions of Siri fairly soon,” he added. “That will make the rate of labor force participation go down.”

Then he chuckled. He had recently been in a meeting with someone, explaining his views. “So what you’re saying,” the man concluded, “is that the pessimists are right. But it’s going to be much better than they think.”


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