When robots take jobs, workers deserve compensation

A crowded passenger ferry waits on the River Thames, London, in the 1930s while Tower Bridge lifts to let it through © Getty The largely forgotten fate of London’s watermen, who ferried passengers on the Thames for centuries before faster forms of transport stole their jobs, would seem of marginal relevance today. But the lessons of the past can often inform the decisions of the future. And as we fret about the rise of robots and the impact of artificial intelligence, the history of London’s water taxis can teach us something about how to ease disruption caused by new technologies. For many years, London’s watermen were the most numerous workers in the city. But complaints about their abusive practices forced parliament to pass a law in 1514 to regulate the…


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