06 Is this time really different?

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Machines may go from being tools to workers. Will they then start to outcompete us? How do today's tech revolutions compare to previous ones? 

Some predict that the impact of current waves of automation and robotics on the labour market is substantially different from the one of earlier waves of technological progress. Others have dismissed this prediction as overly alarmist. Whether the current developments are as disruptive as some believe them to be is still subject to heated debate.

Within this project, we aim to nourish this debate with relevant research findings and expert opinions. We will place current changes into a longer-term historical perspective and examine the evolution of the wage structure and the relative demand and supply for skills from the 1960s onwards. Understanding how past waves of technological change and automation affected the labour market may help us to predict how current and future waves of automation and robotics may affect the labour market.

University of Oxford (lead), Maastricht University.

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