Friday, April 28, 2017
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Technological Institute, L211, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it
Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students
Title: SCIENCE UNDER THE POPULIST GUN
Speaker: Mike Lubell, City College of New York
Abstract: For more than half a century science and technology have been the principal drivers of economic growth in the United States. Today, by some estimates they account for as much as 85 percent of the increase in the gross domestic product (GDP). But, while the nation as a whole has prospered economically, a majority of the population has benefitted only marginally. Wage gains have not kept pace with productivity growth, and for more than 15 years manufacturing jobs have suffered from technological displacement. Once thought to be immune to such pressures, service employment has also begun to reflect the march of technology. Automation, artificial intelligence and deep learning – all stemming from science – have the potential to play extraordinarily disruptive roles in the future labor force.
The 2010 election sparked the rise of the Tea Party, and the 2014 election transformed an upstart movement into much wider spread of populism. Donald Trump’s success in the 2016 general election and the unexpected strength of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary demonstrated the rapid growth of the movement. In reaching the White House, President Trump promised to bring back manufacturing jobs by rewriting trade pacts, imposing tariffs on imported goods and deregulating industry. He has also promised to bring back coal mining by loosening environmental restrictions. He is almost certain to fail in delivering on his jobs promises because his proposed fixes will pale in the face of accelerating technological impacts.
While extensive polling has shown that Americans continue to have warm feelings for science, the survey results also show that the support is shallow. If workers continue to feel the adverse effects of technology on the job market, there is a significant potential for a backlash against technology. The science community needs to prepare itself for that possibility by engaging with the public more effectively and helping social scientists and lawmakers to develop policies that mitigate the adverse impacts of technology on the American workforce.
Keywords: Physics, Astronomy, colloquium