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In praise of de Blasio’s robot tax

2019-09-11

To his great credit, last week New York Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio went into “enemy territory” for many Democrats by appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Channel to wave a bright red flag regarding a pending crisis which will not only shred the job market, but negatively impact almost every segment tied to our greater national welfare.

That crisis is the rise of the robots and artificial intelligence and the looming signs that together, they are going to wipe out millions of American jobs in the coming two decades and reduce the quality of life of those American families impacted.

It’s an American tragedy accelerating at the blinding-speed of technological advancement. Yet most don’t see it coming, play down its destructive assault on various career fields or shield their eyes hoping they will survive the coming bad world.

The practiced mantra from those creating the A.I. and robots is always: “New technology ultimately creates exciting new positions to replace the jobs lost through invention, innovation, and advancement.”

The most basic of math and pragmatic thinking will expose that falsehood.

A McKinsey & Company report speculated that by 2030, as many as one-third of all Americans jobs could be made obsolete by A.I and robotics. One third.

If you are a parent, a student, a college president or a politician, you need to sit down immediately and survey this coming bad new world.

For parents and their children, the only question must be: “What career field can one go into which will not be eliminated by A.I. and robotics?”

For educators, they need to admit to themselves that for financial, political, or ideological reasons, they already offer a multitude of courses and majors which are of little or no use to students about to enter a real-world getting harsher by the day.

On top of that, they need to admit that they are now facing an academic emergency. Their only obligation going forward is to meet with faculty and a representation of the student body and focus on — or create — majors which will survive the rise of A.I. and robotics.

Some are looking to mock Bill de Blasio for proposing something that sounds impractical. I praise him for having the vision and the guts to rise to meet one of America’s, and the world’s, biggest coming threats.

MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and an author.