Posted on by Chris Warburton

There’s a saying that Englishmen think 100 miles is a long way, and Americans think 100 years is a long time. That came to mind while I was watching this TED talk about the impact of automation on the availability of jobs.

Whilst I don’t disagree with the overall message, I found it disconcerting how casually the speaker refers to the 19th century as “the ancient past”, and acts as if the alarmist predictions from that time didn’t come true (i.e. assuming that they were made so long ago that we can definitively call them wrong; rather than treating them as contemporary views on continuing trends).

The speaker praises the USA’s investment in high schools during the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. By these standards, my own high school was already “ancient” by the time the USA itself was founded!