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Photo: Stefano Montesi / Getty Images

Only months ago, we were warned of the robot apocalypse — runaway automation that will vaporize swaths of today's jobs, too quickly and profoundly for the economy to create replacements. More recently, we hear an industrywide defense of the robots — the argument that, as has always happened since the early days of the industrial revolution, jobs we never imagined will overcome automation, employing everyone who wants to work. The trouble with both camps is one of forecasting everywhere:

We hear an abundance of assertion; and since professionals are paid to make these forecasts, we also hear a lot of certitude. What has been in short supply is fact. So we just don't know what the future holds.

The case for robots: We sat down this week with senior company executives from Deloitte, which sits in the "don't worry" camp. Eamonn Kelly, a Deloitte futurist, gave the best case we have yet heard for that scenario.

Kelly's argument

When technological disruption has happened, it has done the following three things:

  • Displaced people
  • Augmented what people can do; and
  • Created a new art of the possible, including new work

For two centuries, catastrophe has been routinely forecast from new technology, but "it's never happened because No. 3 is massively bigger than No. 1," Kelly said.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.