If you're worried that more intelligent machines will begin to make humans irrelevant in the work place, don't be. We've been down this road before, and it didn't turn out half as bad as many feared.
Yes, it's true that IBM's (IBM) Watson computer has become a Jeopardy champion and that machines can learn. Apple's (AAPL) iPhone auto-correct seems to be improving, and Alphabet's (GOOG) Google search features do an increasingly good job of anticipating what you're really scouring the Web for.
And they're likely to keep getting smarter, better and faster. But that doesn't mean our future will be akin to a Stephen King horror story, where machines will keep humans as pets, and all jobs are automated.
Such concerns always surface when new technology radically changes the economy, as happened 250 years ago in the industrial revolution.
The trepidation is caused by three major factors: an overestimate of the impact of the technology, lack of vision about how mankind will prosper and the inability of some people to adapt to the change.
If history is a guide, though, the world will turn out better than many of us imagine.
Consider the textile industry, upended when automated weaving machines were introduced in the early 19th century. The technology reduced the cost of production by 98% over the next 100 years and rendered hand-made production obsolete, says professor Jim Bessen, an innovation economist at Boston University School of Law.
What happened? Something radical, he says. As the price of cloth dropped, the demand for it grew and so did the demand for machine operators. "More generally, the manufacturing share of the workforce grew from less than 12% in 1820 to 26% by 1920, despite pervasive labor-saving automation," he wrote in a recent research paper.
In short, machines didn't make people obsolete, but rather made them more productive -- and gave rise to an abundance of consumer products such as cloth.