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John Hudson

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John Hudson

This chapter explores the linkages between social justice and social welfare, broadly defined. Welfare regimes have been classified by a number of commentators and here, the author asks if some of these models of welfare come closer than others to meeting the ideals of social justice articulated in key philosophical works. He briefly reviews key themes from the ‘welfare modelling’ debate before attempting to develop a series of index measures that are used to compare and rank OECD countries on the basis of how well they meet the ideals of different social justice perspectives. In so doing, the chapter relates these analyses to the established welfare state ideal types in order to address the question: How just are the different worlds of welfare capitalism?

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The Robot Revolution

Understanding the Social and Economic Impact

John Hudson

In the coming decades robots and artificial intelligence will fundamentally change our world. In doing so they offer the hope of a golden future, but there are dangers. This book looks at both the history of robots, in science and in fiction, as well as the science behind robots. Specific chapters analyse the impact of robots on the labour market, people’s attitudes to robots, the impact of robots on society, and the appropriate policies to pursue to prepare our world for the robot revolution. Overall the book strikes a cautionary tone. Robots will change our world dramatically and they will also change human beings. These important issues are examined from the perspective of an economist, but the book is intended to appeal to a wider audience in the social sciences and beyond.
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John Hudson

Chapter 1 looks at the process of innovation and the development of key theories of innovation. The building blocks revolve around basic science, design and engineering, manufacturing, marketing and sales. These are part of all theories of innovation, which differ in how they are combined. Much innovation has a disruptive impact on society is often met with opposition. Three case studies – the spinning jenny, the railways and the microchip – illustrate innovation over the centuries. In all of these cases the role of the private researcher was critical, but universities increasingly contribute much of the basic science.

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John Hudson

Chapter 2 begins with a definition of robots, dating back to Leonardo da Vinci and even earlier. The modern age of robots can be viewed as beginning in the 1950s. Both the universities and private sector firms and individuals have played a key part in this development.But robots can be found much earlier than this, sometimes in societal myths and increasingly in the work of fiction. The latter has been of critical importance both in inspiring future scientists and in highlighting potential issues with robots and shaping societal attitudes. The chapter concludes with an examination of the current state of the global robot market.

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John Hudson

Chapter 3 explores the different types of robots available now and likely to be available in the medium term. These include industrial, warehouse and agricultural robots, driverless vehicles, caring and educational robots and security robots. A lot of the work is being done by the military and we also analyse robot soldiers. Finally we turn to modular robots and robot’s close cousins such as bots. In the future, the range of robots is likely to expand and areas that many have argued are beyond robots,such as creativity, are likely to be penetrated.

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John Hudson

This chapter examines the science behind robots. It is not possible to understand the potential impact of robots on the economy and society unless one first understands the underlying science. There are three basic areas relating to manoeuvrability, location awareness and a guiding intelligence. The guiding intelligence can be programmed or can involve artificial intelligence wherethe robot has a degree of autonomy. Much of the developments relating to these three areas take place independently, but the science of robots also involves their integration with disciplines such as nanotechnology andpsychology. Finally the chapterexamines some philosophical issues such as whether robots can think and whether they are, or can develop, self awareness.

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John Hudson

This chapter reviews the theoretical literature of the impact of robots on employment, unemployment and wages. In doing so it presents a new diagrammatic analysis of the impact on the labour market. The empirical work is based on Eurobarometer data. The results found that many believe robots steal jobs, but fewer perceive robots have the ability to do their jobs. We also find that in areas with a large degree of robotisation people are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to be prosperous. There is little evidence of the effects to change with the individual’s level of education. However, the reverse side of these results are that regions with low levels of robotisation do suffer from higher unemployment and lower prosperity. Hence the results are consistent with robots causing unemployment not in the region they are located but in other regions.

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John Hudson

This chapter reviews the different ways robots will influence countries. The effects will be direct, in that robots will directly change society and also indirect via their impacts on the economy. With respect to the former, the most pessimistic scenario is that robots will dramatically reduce the number of jobs, increase unemployment and inequality. The more optimistic scenarios see, in the long run, fewer problems with unemployment, but most see rising inequality. This potentially has political implications with people turning to extremist solutions and politicians. But robots will change people directly as with exoskeletons and indirectly as, for example they reduce the need for human contact. But robots too offer the hope of enormous benefits, particularly for remote and rural areas. They offer the hope of improved care for the elderly, medical improvements, increased mobility to those who cannot drive and to those who cannot walk. Finally we examine the implications for humans of the singularity hypothesis, where humanity in its current form is challenged.

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John Hudson

This chapter reviews the literature on people’s attitudes to robots in several contexts, including in education and caring. The empirical work is based on Eurobarometer data and focuses on general robot approval, and robots in education, caring, surgery and driverless cars and trucks. The results found attitudes to be polarised, with a substantial number being totally hostile and a smaller number being totally positive. This was for robots in several different contexts and in all EU countries, although some countries were more hostile than others. Regression analysis that approval tended to decline with age, increased with the individual’s level of education and prosperity and was lower for manual workers.