Stories

Scholar: 19th century tech boom didn't lead to WWI

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

When thinkers predict misery and danger as the new wave of automation unfolds, their evidence is often the jobs chaos, flat wages, and hellbent industrialization of the 19th century. Last year, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said that technological revolution, after all, "caused World War I."

Quick take: Joel Mokyr, a foremost 19th century scholar at Northwestern University, suggests that the Industrial Revolution and World War I are less of a window into what’s coming from our tech revolution than people presume.