On December 4, 2023, Daron Acemoglu was interviewed on the Princeton University’s Policy Punchline podcast.
“In this episode of Policy Punchline, renown MIT economist Daron Acemoglu takes us through the tumultuous and fascinating history of new technologies and how they have reshaped the societies we live in. He takes us back to the pre-Industrial era, showing that as new technological systems of agriculture changed, exploitative economic systems did not. He busts common myths about the nature of economic growth in the Industrial Age, presenting a darker and more nuanced look at that explosion of economic development. He argues that the advent of the personal computer in the 1980s had a real cost for employment outcomes — not enough new jobs were generated to match the jobs that were replaced by this innovation.
Looking back, he proposes that technology can either complement the value of labor, generating new tasks associated with them, or can displace existing workers by performing the same tasks they did. In many ways, the effect of technology one way or another is not inevitable — it is a policy decision up to us. Looking forward, he asks us to take lessons from the past to utilize AI most equitably, ensuring it augments rather than replaces us. From blue collar jobs in the U.S., labor-intensive tasks performed in the developing world to consulting and software engineering fields, the future of our work lies in our hands. In the era of Artificial Intelligence, Professor Acemoglu brings us the wisdom of economic history, a bold new paradigm for assessing technological change, and a lifetime of expertise, to help us make sense of this brave new world.”