After many false starts, artificial intelligence has taken off. Will it cause mass unemployment or even destroy mankind? History can provide some helpful clues, says Tom Standage

Artificial intelligence—the return of the machinery question

  • People at the time did not talk of an “industrial revolution” but of the “machinery question”.
  • In 2015 a record $8.5 billion was spent on AI companies, nearly four times as much as in 2010, according to Quid, a data-analysis company.
  • AI excites fear and enthusiasm in equal measure, and raises a lot of questions.
  • Technologists, economists and philosophers are now debating the implications of artificial intelligence (AI), a fast-moving technology that enables machines to perform tasks that could previously be done only by humans.
  • Technology giants are buying AI startups and competing to attract the best researchers from academia.

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@TheEconomist: “Artificial intelligence—the return of the machinery question”


After many false starts, artificial intelligence has taken off. Will it cause mass unemployment or even destroy mankind? History can provide some helpful clues, says…


After many false starts, artificial intelligence has taken off. Will it cause mass unemployment or even destroy mankind? History can provide some helpful clues, says Tom Standage