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Martin Ford is a futurist and author focusing on the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on society and the economy.

Martin Ford
Martin Ford Speaking July 2016.jpg
Martin Ford speaking at the Tata Communications CEO Summit in Ascot, UK in July 2016
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan (BSE)
UCLA Anderson School of Management (MBA)
Known for Author of New York Times Bestseller, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
Awards 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Scientific career
Fields Futurist and author focusing on artificial intelligence, robotics and the impact on employment, society and the economy
Website mfordfuture.com/about

He has written two books on technology. His most recent book, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (2015), was a New York Times bestseller and won the £30,000 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award in 2015. The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (2009) also dealt with the effects of automation and the potential for structural unemployment and dramatically increasing inequality.

Ford earned a BSE in computer engineering, magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a graduate business degree from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Contents

Author and futuristEdit

Ford was the first 21st century author[1][unreliable source?] to publish a book (The Lights in the Tunnel in 2009) making a strong argument that advances in robotics and artificial intelligence would eventually make a large fraction of the human workforce obsolete.[2] In subsequent years, Ford has found support for his thesis by Michael Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey at Oxford University, who found in 2013 that the jobs held by roughly 47 percent of the U.S. workforce could be susceptible to automation within the next two decades.[3]

Ford also predicted correctly in his 2009 book that "artificial intelligence will be the next Killer App"[4] and would become a central focus of Silicon Valley. By 2016, major firms like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple were in an intense talent war[5] for AI experts, and Google's CEO had proclaimed that artificial intelligence represented an "inflection point" and that Google would be an "AI-first" company.[6]

In his second book, Rise of the Robots (2015), a New York Times bestseller that has been translated into 19 languages, he argues that the growth of automation now threatens many highly educated people, like lawyers, radiologists, and software designers.[7]

In addition to his books, Ford has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and The Washington Post. He speaks frequently to industry, academic and government audiences, and has presented his ideas at major events attended by global thought leaders, such as the TED Conference, the Milken Institute's Global Conference, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, held annually at the Sydney Opera House, the St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, and the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul. Ford has also spoken to or consulted with various governments, and in July 2016 he participated in a conversation with the White House Chief of Staff about the potential impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the U.S. economy and workforce that was live-streamed from the White House.[8][9]

Ford's two books focus on the fact that widespread automation could potentially undermine economic growth or even lead to a deflationary spiral because jobs are the primary mechanism for distributing purchasing power to consumers.[10] He has warned that as income becomes ever more concentrated into the hands of a tiny elite, the bulk of consumers will eventually lack the income and confidence to continue supplying demand to the mass market industries that form the backbone of the modern economy.[11] To deal with the rise of unemployment and to ensure that consumers have sufficient purchasing power to continue driving economic prosperity, he is in favor of a basic income guarantee.[12]

Ford strongly supports both capitalism and continued technological progress but believes it will be necessary to adapt our economic system to the new reality created by advances in artificial intelligence, and that some form of basic income guarantee is the best way to do this.[13] In Rise of the Robots he cites the Peltzman effect (or risk compensation) as evidence that the safety net created by a guaranteed income might well result in increased economic risk-taking and a more dynamic and entrepreneurial economy. (Peltzman's thesis that risk-improvement measures may be offset by higher-risk behavior is controversial and has been disputed).

He has also argued for incorporating explicit incentives — especially for pursuing education — into a basic income scheme, suggesting for example that those who graduate from high school (or complete an equivalency exam) ought to receive a somewhat higher guaranteed income than those who drop out. Without this, many marginal or "at risk" students would be presented with a perverse incentive to simply drop out and collect the basic income.

Awards and honorsEdit

BooksEdit

  • Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, Basic Books (2015) ISBN 9780465059997
  • The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, Acculant Publishing (2009) ISBN 9781448659814

Selected publicationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Martin Ford's *The Rise of the Robots*". Marginal Revolution (blog). Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Martin Ford Asks: Will Automation Lead to Economic Collapse?". SingularityHub. December 15, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation" (PDF). University of Oxford. September 17, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ Martin Ford (February 16, 2011). "Artificial Intelligence is the Next Killer App (Excerpt from The Lights in the Tunnel, 2009, pp. 81-85)". The Atlantic. 
  5. ^ "Million-dollar babies: As Silicon Valley fights for talent, universities struggle to hold on to their stars". The Economist. April 2, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Google CEO: We feel we're ahead of Apple, others in artificial intelligence". CNBC.com. June 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ "'Rise of the Robots' and 'Shadow Work'". The New York Times. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  8. ^ Paul Bedard (July 7, 2016). "White House warned of 'labor collapse' from robots". Washington Examiner. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  9. ^ Whitehouse discussion with Chief of Staff about Automation https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/06/30/white-house-conversation-automation
  10. ^ "Review: 'Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future', by Martin Ford". Financial Times. May 8, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Review: 'Rise of the Robots' - Soon They'll Be Driving It, Too". Wall Street Journal. May 15, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ "'Rise of the Robots' and the Threat of a Jobless Future - Review". Los Angeles Times. May 21, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Book Discussion on Rise of the Robots". C-SPAN Book TV. May 21, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ Katherine Cowdrey (November 18, 2015). "Oneworld's Ford wins FT McKinsey Business Book award". The Bookseller. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 

External linksEdit