#55 Martin Ford – Author and Futurist

Martin Ford.jpg

Martin Ford is a prominent futurist, New York Times bestselling author, and leading expert on artificial intelligence and robotics and their potential impact on the job market, economy and society. His 2015 book, "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" won the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

In this episode, Martin discusses his best-selling books and describes some of the themes he writes about. For instance, in Rise of the Robots he talks about “The Triple Revolution” which was a report presented to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson fifty years ago that argued this would be a dramatic change to the economy; however, it never really panned out. Martin’s argument for artificial intelligence started back in 2009 after writing his first book titled The Lights in the Tunnel. Ultimately, artificial intelligence will become so powerful that it can have a significant impact on employment that will compete with a large fraction of the workforce.

Then, Martin discusses the impact of jobs, the economy, privacy, and democracy with the influx of automation. There was a recent announcement from OpenAI stating they have created a sophisticated deep-learning system that was able to generate narrative content. In other words, the system can create reviews, articles, and poetry proving AI can be creative. The company withheld the technology because of fear people would use the system to turn the internet into garbage full of fake news and fake reviews.

Later, Felipe and Martin discuss the most common occupational error, driving. Self-driving cars will threaten Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and truck drivers. It may take a bit longer than some people are saying, the technology will be coming within ten to fifteen years. Martin believes the hardest jobs to automate are in three categories: genuine creativity, relationship-building, and skilled trade jobs. We put so much emphasis on going to college; however, the safest jobs are going to be the electrician and plumber. Many people do not thrive at university, half of them are not finding jobs that leverage their education after graduation. Then, Martin explains universal income; giving everyone a minimal level of income to allow them to survive in the absence of a traditional job that would provide money. Stay tuned to hear Martin discuss deep learning, data banks, and the negative implications of artificial intelligence.

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [02:50] Martin’s background

  • [05:45] The themes behind Martin’s writing

  • [08:35] Machine learning is when algorithms can make decisions  

  • [12:00] Amazon is susceptible to automation

  • [16:45] The most common occupation error is driving some kind of vehicle   

  • [18:15] The type of work that will be left for humans  

  • [21:45] Universal basic income  

  • [28:55] Building explicit incentives to earn more income; paying people more to pursue education

  • [33:25] Artificial intelligence will be the primary force shaping our futures

  • [38:35] The solution is not to teach everyone how to code

  • [41:30] Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it

  • [46:00] Deep learning is the biggest thing to happen to artificial intelligence  

  • [52:20] Controlling data and an entirely new industry called data banks

  • [53:15] Negative implications of artificial intelligence

  • [64:40] You do not want to be doing something predictable


Martin’s Website: https://mfordfuture.com/about/

Martin’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-ford-5a70428/

Martin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/MFordFuture

TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/martin_ford


Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it

The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future


  • “It would be a huge mistake to assume only blue-collar workers will be impacted.”

  • “Education is not going to be enough in the long run.”

  • “The last thing we need is a dumbed down population and less informed voters.”

  • “I believe artificial intelligence will be the best thing to happen to humanity.”

Now you can support Data Futurology on Patreon!  


Thank you to our sponsors: 

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au 

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au 

Fyrebox - Make Your Own Quiz!

Martin Ford is based in Sunnyvale, California.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!