90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW

Is Technology Killing The Middle Class?

A robot puts on the top of a Tesla Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

A robot puts on the top of a Tesla Model S at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Friday, June 22, 2012. The first Model S sedan car will be rolling off the assembly line on Friday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Interacting with machines has become so routine that sometimes we barely even recognize we’re doing it. Listening to a computerized voice on the other end of the phone, for example, is so commonplace that we can forget there was once a person there. A person collecting a paycheck. Paying taxes. Paying a mortgage. Now, answering calls is often handled by a machine.

Workers are always keeping an eye over their shoulders, wondering if the next technology could put them out of a job. And as we look back on the Great Recession, one of the central questions that economists are pondering intensely is this: Have average American workers computerized themselves into obsolescence?

Professor David Autor, a professor of economics at MIT, has studied that very question and co-wrote a recent op-ed in the New York Times titled “How Technology Wrecks The Middle Class.” He spoke with WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer about whether technology is to blame for the plight of American workers.

Radio Boston listeners, have you seen your workplace changed by automation? By robotics? Have you been put out of work by technology? Are you worried that you will be? What jobs feel secure and long-lasting to you in a world in which so many human workers are being replaced by machines? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Guest

David Autor, professor of economics at MIT, his recent op-ed in the New York Times is here.


Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

  • Listen: Weekdays, 3 p.m. on 90.9 FM
  • Live Call-In: (800) 423-TALK
  • Listener Voicemail: (617) 358-0607
Most Popular
This site is best viewed with: Firefox | Internet Explorer 9 | Chrome | Safari