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DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL candidate Andrew Yang has declared, “The automation of our jobs is the central challenge facing us today.” Yang’s message, echoed by another candidate, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, won’t win him the nomination, but it is backed up by several social scientists including Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee and Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne. In 2013, Frey and Osborne predicted that in “perhaps a decade or two … 47 percent of total U.S. employment” would be at “high risk” of being automated. That could portend what futurist Martin Ford has called a “jobless future” and would call for drastic measures to prevent a social and political cataclysm.

民主党总统候选人安德鲁 · 杨宣称: “工作的自动化是我们今天面临的核心挑战。”
杨的观点得到了另一位候选人南本德(美国印第安纳州北部城市)市长 Pete Buttigieg 的响应,虽然不会为他赢得提名,但是这一观点得到了一些社会科学家的支持,其中包括麻省理工学院的埃里克· 布林约尔松和安德鲁·麦卡菲,以及牛津大学的研究员 卡尔 · 本尼迪克特 · 弗雷和迈克尔 · 奥斯本。
2013年,弗雷和奥斯本预测,“或许在10年或20年内..... 47% 的美国就业人口将面临自动化的“高风险”,这可能预示着未来学家马丁 · 福特( Martin Ford) 所说的“失业的未来” ,并可能因此采取激烈措施来防止一场社会和政治灾难。

Now Frey has written a long book, The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation, putting his findings in historical context. Frey argues that automation, or what he calls the third industrial revolution, is not only putting jobs at risk, but is the principal source of growing inequality within the American economy. The failure to meet this challenge, Frey warns, is fueling populist and white identity politics, most evident in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

现在,弗雷写了一本很长的书,《技术陷阱: 自动化时代的资本、劳动和权力》 ,并把他的发现放在了当前的历史背景下。
弗雷警告说,未能迎接这一挑战正在助长民粹主义和白人政治,最明显的例子就是2016年唐纳德 · 特朗普当选总统。

The effect has depended on whether the technology was “enabling” or “replacing”—a distinction that is common among social scientists who write about automation. An enabling technology increases the productivity of existing workers without eliminating their jobs. A good example would be how the typewriter increased the power of a clerk without eliminating the need for clerks, or how computer design increased the productivity of architects without imperiling their jobs. But the ATM replaced and eliminated many bank tellers. Robots, combined with industrial reorganization, have replaced assembly line workers. And so on.


According to Frey, the first industrial revolution was dominated by “replacing” technology. Weavers and other artisans were replaced by simple machines that could often be operated by children. Some of these former artisans became low-wage farm laborers, while others were unemployed. Overall, wages and labor’s share of national income plummeted. Economic historians call this period the “Engels’ Pause”—a reference to Friedrich Engels’ classic The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, which documented the immiseration of the peasantry and working class under the new technology. Marx’s socialist politics was rooted in this first industrial revolution: it assumed a rebellious working class facing unremitting downward pressure on wages.

织布工和其他工匠被简单的机器所取代,这些机器通常可以由儿童操作, 这些前工匠中有些人成了低工资的农场工人,而其他人则失业了。
经济历史学家称这一时期为恩格斯的“ 暂停期 ”---- 这一时期参考了弗里德里希·恩格斯1844年的经典著作《英国工人阶级的状况》 ,其中记录了在新技术下农民阶级和工人阶级的贫困化。

The second industrial revolution, Frey argues, was dominated by enabling technology. The key was the rise of the electricity-powered assembly line, the gasoline-powered engine and the new electric office. Productivity rose rapidly, but wages kept pace, and the gap between the wealthy and everyone else actually shrank. The third revolution has taken place in two stages. In the first, which featured robots, many mid-wage, routine industrial jobs disappeared—among those were the assembly line jobs created in the earlier revolution. In the next phase, based on artificial intelligence, many lower-skilled service jobs will disappear. These would include office and administrative support, sales, food preparation and serving, and transportation. Frey thinks the development of autonomous vehicles will soon have a devastating effect on truck drivers, who are the largest single occupational group in many states.


Factory workers who lost their jobs during the first phase of the third revolution (circa 1970–2010) often had to take lower-paid service sector jobs. The same thing will happen, Frey predicts, with workers who lose their jobs in the phase characterized by artificial intelligence. Frey’s prediction is dire. He writes,

在第三次革命的第一阶段 ( 大约1970年至2010年) 失业的工厂工人,往往不得不从事低薪的服务业工作。
同样的事情也会发生,弗雷预测,工人失去工作的阶段性特点是人工智能,弗雷的预测是可怕的。 他写道:

A truck driver in the Midwest is not likely to become a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He might take up work as a janitor. Or he might find work in grounds maintenance, keeping parks, houses, and businesses attractive … If he became a janitor he would trade a $41,340 job (2016 annual median income) for a $24,190 job. If he manages to become a ground maintenance worker, he would make $26,830 per year. Or he might get a job as a social care worker, earning $46,890 per year. But that would require him to get a college degree.

在美国中西部,一个卡车司机不太可能成为硅谷的软件工程师,更可能会从事看门人的工作,或者他可能会找到庭院维护,看管公园、房屋等工作......如果他成为一个看门人,他的工作将从一份 41,340美元的工作 ( 2016年的年收入中位数) ,换成一份 24,190美元的工作,如果他能成为一名庭院维护工人,他每年可以挣26,830美元,或者他可能会找到一份社区护理工作,年收入46,890美元, 但这需要他获得大学学位。

In this way, the third industrial revolution would resemble the first: it would render a mass of workers obsolete and depress overall wages. And, like the first revolution, the third could precipitate a revolt from the bottom—led initially by right-wing populists like Donald Trump or France’s Marine Le Pen. “The robot revolution is largely a Rust Belt phenomenon, and this is also where Trump made the greatest gains for the Republican Party,” Frey observes.

而且,与第一次革命一样,第三次革命可能会引发一场来自底层的反抗——最初由唐纳德 · 特朗普或法国马琳 · 勒庞等右翼民粹主义者领导。
“ 机器人革命在很大程度上是一种铁锈地带现象,而这也是特朗普为共和党赢得最大利益的地方”弗雷评论道。

SOME OF Frey’s analysis of the political implications of the third revolution seems overdrawn: he claims that the research he did with two other social scientists demonstrated that if the number of robots had not increased since 2012 in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton would have won these states and the 2016 election. Overall, however, Frey’s analysis of the Trump vote in the Midwest is pretty astute. Some liberal commentators have attributed Trump’s votes entirely to white racism and identity politics. Frey locates it instead in a broader problem of identity created by “fading opportunity in the labor market.”

他声称,他与另外两位社会科学家的研究表明,如果密歇根州、宾夕法尼亚州和威斯康星州的机器人数量自2012年以来没有增加,希拉里 · 克林顿就会赢得这些州和2016年的选举。
不过,总体而言,弗雷对中西部地区特朗普投票的分析相当精准, 一些自由派评论人士将特朗普的投票完全归咎于白人种族主义和身份认同政治。

These eupeptic plans run afoul, Frey argues, of the average Americans’ desire to earn a living through work and aversion to those who might not share this legacy of the Protestant Ethic. He quotes his Oxford colleague, Ian Goldin, who contends that “Individuals gain not only income, but meaning, status, skills, networks and friendships through work. Delixing income and work, while rewarding people for staying at home, is what lies behind social decay.” Exactly right.

他引用了其牛津大学同事伊恩 · 戈尔丁的话,戈尔丁认为,“个人不仅能获得收入,还能通过工作获得价值、地位、技能、关系网和友谊, 但如果收入与工作脱钩,同时奖励那些呆在家里不工作的人,是社会衰退的原因。”

In a closing section, Frey enumerates his own proposals for dealing with job displacement owing to the third industrial revolution:
Addressing the social costs of automation, will require major reforms in education, providing relocation vouchers to help people move, reducing barriers to switching jobs, getting rid of zoning restrictions that spur social and economic divisions, boosting the incomes of low-income households through tax credits, providing wage insurance for people who lose their jobs to machines, and investing in early childhood education.


While by no means novel, these proposals make perfect sense.
FREY COVERS a lot of ground in his book, and I won’t pretend to match his erudition. But I want to raise a few questions about his historical account of the industrial revolutions and about the overweening role that he assigns to automation in explaining economic equality and inequality.


First, the history of technology and jobs: I don’t think the distinction between replacing and enabling technology fully accounts for the difference between the revolutions and their effect on jobs and economic equality.
Take the difference between the second and third revolutions. Frey acknowledges in passing that, during the second revolution, technology did dramatically replace employment, especially in agriculture. In 1850, according to some estimates, 64 percent of the country’s workers worked on farms; by 1929, due in large part to the introduction of reapers, tractors and other machinery, it was down to 18.3 percent. It is now below 2 percent, even though total production has continued to increase. During the same period, a host of crafts occupations were also replaced by assembly-line production.

拿第二次和第三次革命的区别来说,弗雷顺便承认,在第二次革命期间,科技确实戏剧性地取代了就业,尤其是在农业领域,据估计,1850年,全国64% 的工人在农场工作,到1929年,由于收割机、拖拉机和其他机械的引进,这一比例下降到了18.3% ,尽管总产量持续增长,但是现在这一比例已经低于2% ,而在同一时期,许多工艺品行业也被装配线生产所取代。

What made the second industrial revolution such a boon to employment was the introduction of vast new industries. These included automobiles, aircraft, electric machinery, telephones and household appliances. Citing the historian David L. Lewis, Frey notes that by 1986, the auto-industrial complex, which consists of manufacturing, services and construction, employed one out of six Americans. Many of the workers or the children of the workers who were replaced by machinery on the farm or in crafts went to work in these industries.

使第二次工业革命对就业非常有利的一点是大量新产业的引进,其中包括汽车、飞机、电机、电话和家用电器。 弗雷援引历史学家戴维刘易斯的话指出,截至1986年,由制造业、服务业和建筑业组成的汽车工业综合体雇佣了六分之一的美国人,许多被农场或机器取代的手工业工人的子女去这些行业工作。

There is an additional factor that the Manhattan Institute’s Oren Cass cites in his analysis of the effect of automation on job growth. From 1947 to 1972, as the second industrial revolution was reaching its climax, manufacturing productivity grew 3.4 percent a year and output grew 4.2 percent a year. Yet from 2000 to 2018, productivity grew 3.1 percent a year—most likely as a result of automation—but output only rose 1.3 percent a year. In this case, the real villain in job loss was not automation, but the lag in manufacturing output. If output had grown as it had in the past, there would not have been the same overall loss in jobs due to automation.

曼哈顿研究所的奥伦 · 卡斯在分析自动化对就业增长的影响时引用了另外一个因素。
从1947年到1972年,随着第二次工业革命达到高潮,制造业生产率每年增长3.4% ,产量每年增长4.2% 。
然而,从2000年到2018年,生产率每年增长3.1% (这很可能是自动化的结果) ,但产量每年仅增长1.3% 。

So you have automation as a secondary factor in job loss due to the lack of a corresponding increase in output. The lack of domestic output was partly due to manufacturers shifting their jobs out of the country—in North Carolina, for instance, which Trump won, its furniture industry shifted to Mexico—and to ruinous competition from subsidized industries in Asia that knocked out American firms. In one highly-quoted study, economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson blamed competition from Chinese exports for the loss of up to 2.4 million jobs from 1999 to 2011. The same authors, along with Kaveh Majlesi, also argued that import competition contributed to political polarization and fueled the rise of Trump. Again, it wasn’t just automation that led to the loss of jobs and the rise of right-wing populism.

国内产出不足的部分原因是制造商将工作转移到了国外( 例如,在北卡罗来纳州,特朗普获胜,该州的家具行业转移到了墨西哥) ,以及来自亚洲补贴行业的毁灭性竞争,这些行业击败了美国公司。
这两位作者和 Kaveh Majlesi 还认为,进口竞争加剧了政治分化,推动了特朗普的崛起。

My second concern with Frey’s analysis has to do with the relationship technology has to wages and rising inequality. Frey attributes rising wages and greater equality during the second revolution primarily to wages keeping in line with rising productivity and skill levels. Child labor was replaced by more skilled adults. But I would add several factors which become relevant in judging why wages haven’t kept pace with productivity during the third revolution.


During the second revolution, there was a favorable relationship between supply and demand created by the restrictions on immigration introduced in 1920 and 1924 legislation. The rise of the labor movement in the 1930s, which was particularly strong in the new industries and which, by the 1950s, accounted for a third of the non-farm labor force, buoyed wages; and during the two world wars, American administrations took measures, including progressive taxation, that increased economic equality. (In the 1920s, by contrast, when wartime taxes were repealed and regressive changes introduced, and when a corporate offensive demolished labor unxs, economic inequality rose.)


If you now look at the third industrial revolution, it becomes clear that there were other factors besides automation that have contributed to growing inequality and wage stagnation. Wage stagnation has coincided with the decline of labor unxs, particularly in the private sector. This decline was not directly the result of automation, but of an employer offensive aided initially by the Reagan administration. Many plants moved south or out of the country in order to avoid unxization. Corporations used strong-arm tactics, some of which were illegal—for instance, firing organizers—to block organizing drives. When unxized labor no longer makes up a significant share in an industry’s employment, unxized firms no longer set the standard for wages—they have to adjust to their competition. By the 1990s, that had become the case in many key industries.

许多工厂迁往南方或国外,以避免成立工会企业使用强硬手段 ( 其中一些手段是非法的,例如解雇组织者)来阻止组织驱动,当加入工会的劳动力不再在某个行业的就业中占据重要份额时,加入工会的公司就不再制定工资标准,它们必须适应竞争, 到20世纪90年代,这已经成为许多关键行业的普遍情况。

Wage stagnation at the bottom of the income ladder also coincided with the dramatic rise of unskilled immigration, which began after the 1965 immigration bill and accelerated in the 1990s. It depressed the wages of service and construction workers and also made it more difficult to unxize. Employers used legal and illegal immigrants to bust unxs in meatpacking, agriculture, construction and janitorial services. In insisting on the primary role for automation in wage stagnation and inequality, Frey acknowledges that the decline in unxization may have played a lesser role, but he denies any role to the increase in unskilled immigration.


There is, finally, the idea that 47 percent of American jobs will be in “high risk” from automation “in a decade or two.” There is no question that some jobs will be at risk. Some, like telemarketers, tax preparers, brokerage clerks and file clerks, are already on the verge of extinction. But as Cass points out in his analysis, Frey and Osborne appear to equate the replacement of certain tasks within occupations with the replacement of the occupations themselves. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study of American occupations only found 9 percent that were easily automatable. A McKinsey Global Institute study found that while at least 30 percent of activities within 60 percent of jobs could be automated, less than five percent of jobs “could be automated in their entirety.” (McKinsey also cited studies showing that by 2030, 8 to 9 percent of jobs “will be ones that barely exist today.”) Self-driving cars and trucks may be decades rather than a decade or two away from displacing drivers. And other occupations on Frey and Osborne’s list—including models, bicycle repairers, tour guides, cooks and animal breeders—do not appear like obvious candidates for machine replacement.

通过全面的移民改革,但也限制非技术移民的数量,这些非技术移民将与已经在美国的非技术或低技术工人竞争; 取消美国公司将生产迁出美国的激励措施,将这些措施与弗雷建议的措施结合起来,可以将技术从一个陷阱变成某种祝福。