Tuesday 3 December 2019


Carl Benedikt Frey

The Technology Trap

From the Industrial Revolution to the age of artificial intelligence, The Technology Trap takes a sweeping look at the history of technological progress and how it has radically shifted the distribution of economic and political power among society’s members.

As Carl Benedikt Frey shows, the Industrial Revolution created unprecedented wealth and prosperity over the long run, but the immediate consequences of mechanisation were devastating for large swaths of the population. These trends, Frey documents, broadly mirror those in our current age of automation.

What happens depends upon how the short term is managed. In the nineteenth century, workers violently expressed their concerns over machines taking their jobs. Today’s despairing middle class has not resorted to physical force, but their frustration has led to rising populism and the increasing fragmentation of society. As middle-class jobs continue to come under pressure, there’s no assurance that positive attitudes to technology will persist.

Carl Benedikt Frey

Carl is the Oxford Martin Citi Fellow and co-director of the Programme on Technology and Employment at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. He is also a senior fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford and in the Department of Economic History at Lund University.

In 2013, he co-authored one of the most influential studies of our time, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization? estimating that 47% of jobs are at risk of automation. He has served as an advisor and consultant to international organisations, think tanks, government and business, including the G20, the OECD, the European Commission, the United Nations, and several Fortune 500 companies.

"The Technology Trap may well ensnare doom-seekers’ attention with its ominous-sounding title. But it should ultimately hearten anyone who reads it."

The Economist