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Re-thinking the capabilities of technology in economics

Daniel Susskind ()
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Daniel Susskind: Fellow in Economics, Balliol College, Oxford University

Economics Bulletin, 2019, vol. 39, issue 1, 280-288

Abstract: Over the last 15 years, the ‘task-based' approach has become dominant in the economic literature that explores the effects of technological change on the labour market. This approach has tended to rely on a particular understanding of the capabilities of technology -- known as the ‘ALM hypothesis'. However, this has led this literature to severely underestimate these capabilities. Many tasks that were believed to be out of reach of automation can now be automated. In this note I set out two distinct explanations for why these capabilities were underestimated -- one that is explored in the recent literature and maintains the ALM hypothesis, and a new explanation that challenges it. I propose a new hypothesis about the capabilities of technology that contains the ALM hypothesis as a special case.

Keywords: Technological Change; Automation; Tasks. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J2 J3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-02-18
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