ECON 4494W — Assignment 1

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One of today's most prominent concerns is automation and the future of work.  With the development ever-more-powerful computers and so-called artificial intelligence, will technological unemployment become a serious problem?  Will robots take our jobs?  To economic historians, this is not a new concern -- people have been fearing the effects of technology ever since there was technology.   Your assignment is to think about -- and to make an argument about -- this issue.  To frame the discussion, consider the prediction of John Maynard Keynes, the twentieth century's most famous economist, made some 90 years ago.  In an essay of 3 to 5 pages, make and defend an argument about Keynes's essay.  What were Keynes's predictions?  What did he get right?  What did he get wrong?  And what (if anything) does this article have to say about our concerns today?

John Maynard Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" (1930), in Essays in Persuasion. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1932, pp. 358-373 .

Due: February 4.