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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2016 > Letters


Robots rule

Giles Wilkes (“Are only poets safe?,” January) describes the thesis of the book The Future of the Professions as “audacious.” The claim is not new, let alone audacious: since the 1970s at least there have been predictions of how automation and artificial intelligence would replace white as well as blue collar work. The internet and big data are now making that a reality.

For decades, the American Medical Association has resisted the fact that, for example, robots can cut better hip replacement sockets than surgeons. Slowly, the conspiracy that many professions represent is having to give way. If the NHS were not so backward in non-medical technology, its financial problems would be far smaller.

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In Prospect’s February issue: Lawrence Summers questions Robert J Gordon’s thesis on the impact of the digital revolution, John Sawers, the former Chief of MI6, highlights how technology is making the work of spies harder and Frank Furedi examines the student movements demanding protection from the offensive and uncomfortable. Also in this issue: Gershom Gorenberg on Israel, Ben Judah on the complexity of London and Elizabeth Pisani on the impact of fake drugs. Plus Sam Tanenhaus on Obama’s gun control plans.