October 26, 2018
Innovation Hub’s Kara Miller sat down with Vecna Robotics co-founder and CIO, Daniel Theobald, and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research, Melissa Flagg, to discuss how technology and automation are affecting our lives. Here are the three key takeaways provided by WGBH:
- So is technology really uprooting society? Yes and no. Flagg points to farmers in the Midwest who can still maintain their family businesses, thanks to technology like no-till farming and advanced tractors. But, of course, there are also people losing jobs. Flagg argues that both groups should help scientists and engineers shape future technologies.
- Part of accepting new technology is learning how to let go of old technology. Theobald points to telephone switchboard operators. Switchboard operators provided employment for decades, but the job started to become obsolete in the 1980s, at a time when tens of thousands of people were still employed as operators. And while the transition was difficult, Theobald points out that today’s communications technology would simply not be possible with manual switchboard operation.
- But Flagg and Theobald both agree that more attention needs to be paid to the people who have had their lives disrupted by tech. They say we need more education and retraining for people who might have lost their jobs, plus programs that teach workers how they can incorporate technologies into their current roles.
Listen to the whole interview here.
It will also be broadcasted Saturday, October 20th at noon on NPR and around the country the rest of the week.