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Publisher's Summary

From mechanical looms to combustion engines to early computers, new technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. In the past, such fears have been misplaced, and many economists maintain that they remain so today. Yet in A World Without Work, Daniel Susskind shows why this time really is different. Advances in artificial intelligence mean that all kinds of jobs are increasingly at risk. 

Drawing on almost a decade of research in the field, Susskind argues that machines no longer need to think or reason like us in order to outperform us, as was once widely believed. As a result, more and more tasks that used to be far beyond the capability of computers - from diagnosing illnesses to drafting legal contracts - are now within their reach. The threat of technological unemployment is real. 

So how can we all thrive in a world with less work? Susskind reminds us that technological progress could bring about unprecedented prosperity, solving one of mankind's oldest problems: making sure that everyone has enough to live on. The challenge will be to distribute this prosperity fairly, constrain the burgeoning power of Big Tech and provide meaning in a world where work is no longer the centre of our lives. In this visionary, pragmatic and ultimately hopeful book, Susskind shows us the way. 

©2020 Daniel Susskind (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about A World Without Work

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    2 out of 5 stars

Not explaining the difference between history

The book fails to explain why this time there will be no work in the future. It is good and open minded that in the past similar worries were proven incorrect but it doesn't do a good job explaining and defending how it will be different this time.

On the positive side, there are interesting historical parallels and open minded aprochaes

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  • Pumpapa
  • 08-12-2020

a careful economists' analysis

This is a careful economists' analysis of the impact of AI and robotics on our economy and to some degree society. What mechanisms are at play and how can we cope when our technology makes human work gradually redundant. Both the text and the performance (by the author) are solid. I enjoyed reading the thoughts, the many examples and the thorough analysis.

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  • Androcles
  • 24-12-2020

Very thought provoking

It’s easy to fall into a basic dichotomy of world view. , of wealth creators as against wealth sharers. This book deals with the massive changes happening in the world of work, and the massive rise both of joblessness and wealth inequality, and proposes radical but profound avenues of discussion.

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  • V. Liogier
  • 04-12-2020

A book for our times!

I am an educator, and our role as educators is to prepare learners to become independent thinkers, ready for the world of work, or, as Susskind puts it, for a world without work.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to this book. It is thought provoking and clearly examines the impact advances in technologies have had, and will have on our society. The book is written clearly and is very accessible. Even though I am not an economist, I found it easy to understand. Susskind’s analysis is pertinently researched and evidence-based. It is informed through other economists’ and philosophers’ work, while constructive solutions are proposed to respond to the problems of inequality, power and meaning.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Robin Green
  • 18-01-2021

Not much new here

Didn't learn much new from this book. What was well-justified was not new to me, and what was novel was not well-justified.

The chapter on Big Tech was the most interesting, but also seemed off-topic for the book - an entertaining digression, in other words.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-11-2020

OK

A few interesting ideas in here but much of this has been stated before. Not as good as everyone says it is. But if you are new to this genre you might find it interesting. If you've read Piketty and Mazzucato and the like, Susskind doesn't really expand on what they've written already.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-07-2020

Very important book

I think that this is a very important book, that follows on naturally from the argument set out by Daniel and his father a few year ago, giving shape to a possible and likely future.

It’s the kind of book you will return to, containing both grand arguments and delightfully subtle nuance.

However, I feel that there is a further book needed that leaves the well made technological and economic arguments behind, and that focusses on the psychology of incentives.

In a world where self betterment is economically unnecessary, how to persuade those we need to work still, to deploy their unique talents, to endure the pain and hardship of skill development, when so many alternative routes of gentle easier fulfilment arise.

I’ve yet to meet a young engineer with a passion for Fourier analysis. Who would study it as an end in itself. Especially if the alternative is guitar or painting, or an afternoon’s student politics.

The answers offered seem to me to be almost Stalinist - that the state will treat you equally unless it decides that you dear comrade are selected to toil for the engine.

The central problem thus remains - in a world with little work, how do you prevent a dystopian outcome with an underclass and a privileged class of technocrats.

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  • Richard H. Merrick
  • 10-02-2020

Provoking

I read this based on my appreciation of his previous work on the future of the professions. This book takes the same basis themes, but extends the scope significantly.
When we consider the unsustainability of current levels of inequality, and combine that with the impact of technology to erode, or replace, much of what we currently think of as work, this book provides a great thinking tool. You may or may not agree with his conclusions, but it’s wonderful to have his views to push against. An excellent read.

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  • H Newsam
  • 10-02-2020

A very important book

The book looks at why work will be replaced by machines and how we should cope with this change in the 21st century. It will happen... talk to about it, especially to your political representatives!

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