Congressional Briefing on Automation and the Workforce

This briefing took place Monday, November 13, at 10:00 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2045, Washington DC.  The conversation was moderated by Dane Kennedy of the National History Center.

Robots and other rapidly developing technologies have raised new fears about the future of work.  Yet this is not the first time that technological innovations have transformed how we make a living.  What can the past tell us about the impact of automation on employment?

You can view a recording of the briefing here, in C-SPAN’s video library.

You can read a briefing summary here.

In “Will Robots Rule the World?” Dane Kennedy recaps the briefing.

Meet the Presenters

Amy Sue Bix is Professor of History at Iowa State University and director of ISU’s Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science.  Bix has written widely on many topics in the history of science, technology, and medicine, including her book Inventing Ourselves Out of Jobs?: America’s Debate over Technological Unemployment, 1929-1981 (2000) and The Future is Now: Science and Technology Policy in America Since 1950,  co-authored with Alan Marcus (2007).  Her 2013 book ‘Girls Coming to Tech!’: A History of American Engineering Education for Women won the 2015 Margaret Rossiter Prize from the History of Science Society.  Her book in progress is Recruiting Engineer Jane and Astrophysicist Amy: American STEM Advocacy for Girls, 1965-2015.

Product Details   Girls Coming to Tech!   Product Details

Jonathan Coopersmith is Associate Professor of History at Texas A&M University.  He received his D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University and his BA from Princeton University.  His book Faxed: The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine (2015) recounts the history of the device from its origins to its workplace glory days, in the process revealing how it helped create the accelerated communications, information flow, and vibrant visual culture that characterize our contemporary world.  He is also author of The Electrification of Russia, 1880-1926 (1992) and co-editor, with Roger Launius, of Taking Off: A Century of Manned Flight.  He is co-organizing the National Science Foundation-funded conference, “To Boldly Preserve:  Ensuring the Future of Space Archives,” which will be held March 1-2, 2018 at the American Institute of Physics, College Park, Maryland ( Coopersmith has written widely on the history of technology and has been interviewed on the subject by the New York Times, the Washington PostTime, and Newsweek, among others.


Louis Hyman is Assistant Professor in the Labor Relations, Law, and History department at the ILR school of Cornell University.  He is currently working on a book entitled Short-Sighted: The Rise of Flexible Corporations and Temporary Work in Postwar America.  A former Fulbright scholar and McKinsey consultant, Hyman received his PhD in American history in 2007 from Harvard University.  His first book Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (2011) focused on the history of political economy of debt and was selected as one of the 2011 Choice Top 25 Outstanding Books of the Year.   His second book, Borrow: The American Way of Debt (2012), explained how American culture shaped finance and in turn how finance shaped culture.  His writings have appeared in the New York TimesThe AtlanticWilson Quarterly, Bloomberg, CNBC, and other newspapers, journals, and blogs, as well as essay collections.

Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Politics and Society in Modern America) by [Hyman, Louis]        Borrow: The American Way of Debt by [Hyman, Louis]