Since the term “robot” was first coined in 1921, Americans have been suspicious of their intentions.
In an uncanny parallel to the 1920s, Americans today are concerned about losing jobs, and worse, to robots.
Last year I addressed these concerns in this column:
I recently ran across this article from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page.
A Robot Has Shot Its Master-The 1930s hysteria about machines taking jobs and killing people.
By Matt Novak
(Excerpt) “What about the 1930s lent itself to a fear of technology that was made tangible through a humanoid robot? Predictions for the future are always a direct reflection of the times in which they’re created. During times of economic insecurity it’s hard not to be filled with anxiety about the future of your country, your family, or your employer—should you be so lucky as to be employed. Just as all politics is local, all futurism is now. Over the last few years we’ve seen Americans of all political persuasions flood the streets; concerned about the future, and more often than not, concerned about their jobs. At the same time, we’ve seen a renewed fear of robots invading the workplace. Earlier this fall, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo warned that even the highly educated—doctors, lawyers, scientists—could find their jobs outsourced to robots in the future; farm workers and warehouse employees are in more immediate danger of being replaced.” Read the rest here.
Check out a slideshow about the great robot panic of the 1930s in the pages of print media.
Time to walk on down the road…