Before the pandemic, headline-grabbing advances in artificial intelligence and robotics — such as gaming champ AlphaGo becoming the first computer program to beat a human professional player at the board game Go, and those cool/scary videos of gymnastic machines from Boston Dynamics jogging and jumping and tumbling — led to numerous stories and books about robots taking all the jobs. That, even as unemployment was falling to its lowest levels since the 1960s.

Wait until the government tries to define “robot” for tax purposes and a legion of corporate lobbyists charge into battle, gumming up the works for the robot producers and would-be customers.

Now unemployment is a lot higher, and a much-mentioned post-pandemic economic trend is the continuation of greater workplace automation that began during the outbreak to protect people from Covid-19. The economics team at Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs are highlighting the shift to…

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