May 27, 2020
The Lights In The Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology And The Economy Of The Future
Posted by Martin Ford

What will the economy of the future look like Where will advancing technology, job automation, outsourcing and globalization lead Is it possible that accelerating computer technology was a primary cause of the current global economic crisis and that even disruptive impacts lie ahead This groundbreaking book by a Silicon Valley computer engineer and entrepreneur explorWhat will the economy of the future look like Where will advancing technology, job automation, outsourcing and globalization lead Is it possible that accelerating computer technology was a primary cause of the current global economic crisis and that even disruptive impacts lie ahead This groundbreaking book by a Silicon Valley computer engineer and entrepreneur explores these questions and shows how accelerating technology is likely to have a highly disruptive influence on our economy in the near future and may well already be a significant factor in the current global crisisE LIGHTS IN THE TUNNEL employs a powerful thought experiment to explore the economy of the future An imaginary tunnel of lights is used to visualize the economic implications of the new technologies that are likely to appear in the coming years and decades The book directly challenges nearly all conventional views of the future and illuminates the danger that lies ahead if we do not plan for the impact of rapidly advancing technology It also offers unique insights into how technology will intertwine with globalization to shape the twenty first century and explores ways in which the economic realities of the future might be leveraged to drive prosperity and to address global challenges such as poverty and climate change.

  • Title: The Lights In The Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology And The Economy Of The Future
  • Author: Martin Ford
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 183
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • The Lights In The Tunnel Automation Accelerating Technology And The Economy Of The Future What will the economy of the future look like Where will advancing technology job automation outsourcing and globalization lead Is it possible that accelerating computer technology was a primary cau

    Keith Swenson

    It is hard to describe how wrong this sorry excuse for a book is. In fact, so hard I just spent over 12 hours writing down a list of things I felt was wrong or misleading. Here I will give you just a brief synopsis.First some positives: it is entertaining. I read until the end. It poses some important questions about how the economy will change with the advent of "strong" automation which is likely to displace most of the jobs today. Ford presents reasonable intellectual honesty when he points o [...]

    Alexander Fowler

    Martin Ford is one of the few people out there who has realized that relentless technological development, especially in AI and robotics, and the free market economy as we know it are inherently incompatible because it will essentially lead to the creation of an almost purely autonomous but jobless economy. Since the free market economic engine is the mass market, who will be the future consumers of goods and services when intelligent machines take over their jobs? If nothing is done about this [...]

    Douglas Summers-Stay

    I thought the "lights in the tunnel" metaphor was not very illustrative, but I agreed with everything this book was saying about the upcoming problem. Increasing automation is reducing the ability of the average worker to find any job, and this situation will only get worse as computational power grows exponentially. At some point, many workers will be unable to find any kind of employment at all. I don't know about his solutions, though.You can download this book for free at thelightsinthetunne [...]

    Greg Linster

    The fear of technological unemployment dates back to the eighteenth century when Ned Ludd famously smashed two stocking frames. The word "Luddite" was thus created for anyone who opposed technology. Of course, if you mention technological unemployment to most modern day economists they'll kindly remind you that machines don't actually take jobs from people, but rather, they create more jobs. And, until now, most modern economists have been right. Hence, a belief that machines takes jobs from hum [...]


    The author does a great job in describing and arguing how automation and technology is reducing the workforce in many sectors of the economy. He argues well that the question is not how can we create more jobs, but how do we live in an economy that does not require millions of people to actually work the way we have done for centuries? It is not only automation that is replacing the workforce, we simply do not need people to perform manual tasks that technology replaces (e.g. bank tellers, store [...]

    David Uriell

    The Lights in the Tunnel convincingly describes the inevitability of automation and the effects it will have on the economy, i.e. massive unemployment which depresses demand to the point of systemic collapse. Ford's proposed solution is to redistribute wealth using a new taxation system that taxes capital rather than labor, and to create 'virtual jobs' where people get paid for doing activities that have positive externalities e.g. learning, civic participation, or living an environmentally frie [...]

    Steven Grimm

    Are there going to be more people than economically productive jobs in the future? Ford thinks so and he lays out the reasons why. His proposed solution may or may not be the best possible one and will likely ruffle the feathers of both economic conservatives and economic progressives (it borrows from both lines of thinking), but it's likely a lot better than what'll happen if we keep blinders on about the situation. Even though the book was written in 2009 and is thus slightly out of date regar [...]


    I thought this was a very interesting book and am perplexed by the only other reader giving it one star. As with any book attempting to peer into the future, much of it is speculation. The author does however work with technology, so it is perhaps well-informed speculation. The title of the book is based on a little thought experiment in which a tunnel represents our free market economy. The many points of light are participants in this economy, each with an income that is spent and replenished [...]

    Alex Timberman

    His analysis was rigorous but all based on the fundamental assumption that automation will kill jobs off – leading to a global crisis. Either he believes in what he writes or he is writing up to the audience that most resonates with the end-of-the-world narrative. The reason why I disagree with him is two-fold: first, political processes (especially democratic ones) will erode the momentum of technology to replace workers, at least to the extent the author alludes to. And second, most of the w [...]

    Kevin Vejrup

    The book is written by a computer engineer, who is convinced that technology will take over jobs currently performed by humans. His arguments are unconvincing. He refutes the idea of past technological job removal, with few and poor arguments of present accomplishments and exponential progress. He makes no attempt to predict the jobs that could be created in the future. Surprisingly, he believes that it is mainly the high paid knowledge workers, whose jobs will be automated. He is seemingly unab [...]


    I ran across this book ages ago on the Internet and had it on my "to get to eventually" list. After reading it, I really wish I hadn't waited so long. The ideas it covers have the potential to impact everyone; honestly I think it should be required reading for anyone that expects to be alive from pretty much now onMartin's case for what truly drives our economy is spot-on. He lays out the case for the impact of automation, software and robotics clearly and addresses the standard arguments agains [...]


    Martin Ford is a Silicon Valley software engineer who worries about what Mr. and Ms. Jetson of the future will do for a job. As I recall, Mr. Jetson spent two hours a day pushing buttons at the factory, and in exchange earned enough to support a nice middle-class living for four. Martin Ford thinks the work for the middle class may go away, and the Jetsons won't be living their middle-class dream after all. Hence, his book.


    Certainly a very interesting and probably presentient book. The only negative is the faith the author seems to have in the political process. It is basically our only hope and to me that is reason for concern.

    Daniel Lemire

    Pretty good book about what the future might hold. In short: automation and unemployment. It is a convincing scenario.

    Domen Bider

    Envision a tunnel. The tunnel is dark, but streaming through the tunnel are countless points of white light. As we watch the lights float past, we notice that the majority shine with a medium range of brightness. At the extreme, we can very occasionally see an intensely bright light, shining like a miniature sun. Still, as we watch the scene inside the tunnel, it is the overwhelming number of the average lights that truly captivates us. The tunnel walls are tiled with thousands upon thousands of [...]

    Michael Bievenouer

    Loved it!My guess is that most of us who are paying attention will find this book to be telling it like it is. As a population we need to recognize that computers and robotics will and are fundamentally changing the future of jobs. We can take the road of doing what is best for all or try to take the road of cut throat capitalism. Our choice, but we will be forced to chose.

    Steve Sarner

    You're fired!I’m fired!We’re all fired!Imagine a world with over 75% of the population unemployed. Welcome to the automated economy.On the bright side, instead of getting paid to work, maybe we’ll get paid to read books. That’s one idea from The Lights in the Tunnel. Side note, I thought the title was a reference to “the light in the tunnel being an oncoming train” which is in some ways accurate. However, he is referencing something completely different.Written at the height of the f [...]


    A short and simple "thought experiment" that challenged my thinking about economics and development. The topic is compelling even though the argument put forth in this short volume is a bit thin. The author proposes a parable of the global economy as a tunnel that is lit up by millions of "lights" or consumers/producers - most importantly consumers because demand drives the economy after all - that are daily contributing to global prosperity. The author then discusses technological advances and [...]

    Kathleen Brugger

    There is a huge change coming, and very few people are talking about it. In the not-too-distant future almost everyone is going to lose their job. Not to offshoring—the Chinese will lose their jobs too. Robots and computers will be doing all the work.Martin Ford wrote this book as a wakeup call. There is an incredibly bright future ahead of us, he says, but only if we navigate the transition to this jobless future well. The key is figuring out how to pay people an income even though they aren [...]


    This is a stunningly important book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. While the central metaphor ("the lights in the tunnel") is a bit odd, don't let that distract you from the message: namely that automation is improving and spreading at a rapid rate and this has serious implications for our economy. This is the clearest, most concise statement of the problem I've come across that treats this problem in depth. What's more, this is one of the few attempts I've seen to seriously think out [...]

    Max Nova

    Martin Ford is either totally insane or a total genius. I'm inclined to believe the latter. With his computer science and business background, Ford makes bold predictions about the rate of technological change and its implications for the economy and society of the future. I've actually been having a similar conversation with my college friends for the past few months - so it was encouraging to see an independently-derived prediction along those same lines. Ford essentially claims that automatio [...]


    I want my ocular implant as badly as the next person (actually I probably want it more), so I spend a lot of time looking for signs and symbols that my implant will be a reality for me not my grandchildren hence I read this book. Of course my biggest disappointment was that this book had absolutely nothing to say on the topic of ocular implants, but what he did have to say about technology and the future economy was thought provoking. His central thesis is that as technology accelerates, "machin [...]


    The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future was an interesting read given recent media attention to automation in the workplace and talk of a "jobless recovery". The author argues that we are on the cusp of a major shift in workplace automation and that today's manufacturing automation is synonymous with the early days of the computer industry. Martin Ford sees that there will be a very distinct non-linear or exponential increase in automation at w [...]


    The author is trying to motivate people, and mostly governments, to prepare for the eventual future when so much of the work people do is automated, that we no longer have enough people employed to support our economies.There were a couple of points in the book that I thought were a bit hand-wavy.The author provides a graph showing the capabilities of computers vs the capabilities of humans, mapped over time, with the human graph leveling off as the technology graph easily surpassing it. That ma [...]


    An interesting view of the future which gets bogged down a bit sometimes its own analogy (the lights in the tunnel) and has a habit of making things a bit complex. But I liked some of the ideas and thoughts about the future, and I rarely walk into a big supermarket or department store these days without thinking about what is going to happen to all those retail jobs that are bound to disappear. Just look as space in your local Tesco's is given over to self-checkout. And this is just the start of [...]

    Cory Withers

    The first section of this book is dead-on. Ford does a great job of addressing potential issues stemming from automation, as well as countering many economist's claims in dismissing the impact of technology on employment. The book falls apart when he starts offering solutions however. It's interesting that the core premise of the book is based on pointing out how one of the key assumptions of capitalism is completely wrong, but it seems that it never occurred to Ford that the other assumptions c [...]


    Quite interesting. I found the linkage of the spreading of automation to future deflationary bombs destroying the economy in its present form very plausible.The solutions proposed may look complicated but remain convincing in theory at a second examination , my concern is how much they could be deployed and implemented politically since politicians (and their electorate if I have to tell) don't seem to proceed like a computer scientist would do ,that is, rebuilding everything from the ground up. [...]


    As you read about robots making hamburgers, factories full of robots and even IBM’s Watson computer learning medicine can you say with 100% certainty that your job will forever be safe from the reach of a machine that could do what you do more quickly and accurately than a human ever could?Even if the answer to that question is “No, a robot could never do my job”, what would happen to your job if huge sections of the population (i.e. consumers) eventually become unemployed due to the afore [...]


    Interesting read. One certainly can't accuse Ford of not thinking outside the box.I have the general feeling that his predictions of increasing workplace automation and increasing productivity underestimate the ability of the free market and advancing technology to create new jobs. That is to say, he may be underestimating the resiliency of creative destruction in the face of advancing technology. I'm no economist, and neither is the author, and I just get the sense that there is a little bit of [...]


    The first half of the book deserves four stars, the second half two. It starts with a very solid discussion of the impact automation will have on the economy and society, addressing many of the interesting points of the Singularity crowd without getting into their unsupported theories. This part was well-supported food for thought.Unfortunately, the book's discussion of solutions was disappointing. They're problematic for those of us who don't view consumerism as the ultimate good, and more impo [...]

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      Posted by:Martin Ford
      Published :2019-03-11T14:23:21+00:00