Why Plumbers and Coders Are Safe From Robots

Software engineers, doctors, airplane pilots and plumbers are sitting pretty. What about you?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

If you're looking for a secure career in the digital age, it may be time to get your plumber's license or learn to code. 

MIT economist David Autor argues that technological innovation has automated a large swath of middle-skill jobs, leaving behind high-skills careers like medicine and software engineering, artisanal careers like plumbing and jobs that require manual labor. 

In this week's New Tech City Quickie, where host Manoush Zomorodi talks to one smart person on one interesting topic, Autor explains what this hollowing out of the middle means for the U.S. economy, the longterm unemployed and anyone who is looking to change careers. 

"There's no evidence that over the short, medium or long term that technology has led to a rise in mass unemployment, but what it has done is change the set of jobs," he says. 

Autor says as painful as it is, innovation and change are necessary for economic growth. 

"We no longer have large numbers of people working as blacksmiths making horseshoes or as people cleaning out stables," he says. "The people doing those jobs had real skills, and it was very disruptive when those activities essentially became less necessary."


David Autor

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Alex Goldmark and Daniel P. Tucker


Charlie Herman


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Comments [3]

Dec. 25 2014 08:26 AM

Dec. 25 2014 08:25 AM
Keith from queens

Plumbers may not be in danger of being replaced by robots per se, but rapidly evolving pipe technology and the willingness of city code officials to permit substandard materials into the sphere of acceptable building practices has lead to a drastic decrease in work hours for the plumbing field over the past 30 years.

Nov. 18 2013 07:55 AM

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