In discussing his new book, Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots, the journalist John Markoff pointed out how polarizing the subject of automation and its effect on employment tends to be.

“You can go from the International Federation of Robotics on one side, which argues that we are on the cusp of the biggest job renaissance in history, to Moshe Vardi, a Rice computer scientist, who argues that all human jobs will be obsolete by 2045,” Markoff observed. “Which group is right?”

If Peter Drucker were around, I don’t think he’d hesitate to serve up an answer: Neither.

Drucker, who had watched this struggle play out many times over many years, believed that the inexorable march of machines was neither a panacea nor a complete catastrophe. And he was wary of any analysis that tipped too far in one direction.

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