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Books & Reviews

Reviews & Praise

"The Technology Trap may well ensnare doom-seekers’ attention with its ominous-sounding title. But it should ultimately hearten anyone who reads it."

The Economist

"A superb guide to 21st-century automation and its disruptive effects."

John Harris, The Guardian

"An excellent analysis of past industrial revolutions, the technologies that emerged within them, and the way societies adapted to those changes."

Adi Gaskell, Forbers

"Made me look at the industrial revolution, invention, sleeping beauties, contexts and the forces that shape our societies differently."

David Byrne, New York Times Book Review

"A provocative, original long view on current concerns, examining the fallout from past technological advances, from the pre-industrial era, through successive industrial revolutions, to mass production and artificial intelligence."

Andrew Hill, Financial Times

"The very latest developments of artificial intelligence have not outdated this widely praised book, which is a powerful historical synthesis on the question of the relationship between man and machine."

Jordan Welu, Wall Street Journal

"This is an important book that economic historians should read. Frey is erudite and thoughtful, and the questions he raises are important and pertinent."

Joel Mokyr, The Journal of Economic History

"Frey provides a longue durée examination of the economic, social, and political interplay that drives technological change. Careful, erudite, elegantly written, and full of insight, the book sets the current overwrought debate about automation and AI on a firm contextualized footing."

Jayati Ghosh, Project Syndicate Best Books of 2019


Alexander Donges, Journal of the German Economic History Association

"Frey explores automation and its consequences, taking the reader on a long sweep of UK and US industrial history that demonstrates the distinction between labour-enabling and labour-replacing technologies... As arguably the most comprehensive account of automation to date, this book deserves to be read widely."

Liam Kennedy, LSE Review of Books

"Excellently written, full of examples and studies I hadn't previously encountered, and I learned a lot."

Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist

"In his bracing new book The Technology Trap, Carl Frey extrapolates from the history of the industrial revolution to offer a vision of the future in which Amazon Go, AI assistants and autonomous vehicles are 'worker replacement' technologies."

Greg Williams, Wired

"A historical odyssey"

Benjamin Schneider & Jane Humphries, Project Syndicate

"Anybody interested in the economic impact of digital and AI, in particular on jobs, will want to read Carl Frey’s new book."

Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist

"a fascinating account of the history of automation and the attitudes and responses that technological change has engendered... Frey’s book makes for a compelling read and is arguably among the most comprehensive accounts of automation from preindustrial times to the present."

Sonali Huria, International Social Science Review

"In The Technology Trap, Frey provides an invaluable examination of automation, labor, and capital from the preindustrial period to the present... This thought-provoking study is required reading for students and scholars of history, economics, and technology."

C. Pinto, Choice Reviews

"Frey’s book is a history with a policy purpose . . . the book reveals an enormous scope of reading."

Kenneth Lipartito, The American Historical Review

"[As] Frey points out in his new book The Technology Trap, for all that the robots may make the world more local, they may have other painful side-effects, putting millions of people out of work and sparking an almighty backlash."

Ed Conway, The Times

"An extremely useful history of the effect of technology on jobs and income inequality."

John Judis, The National Interest

"A fascinating history of technical change."

Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling

"Frey’s analysis is worth taking seriously because the Oxford economic historian and economist has researched his subject deeply and has co-authored one of the most widely cited studies on automation. …. Frey’s story is well argued and — at times — deeply alarming about the stability of western democracies given he predicts the further concentration of wealth in a few hands and in even fewer locations"

John Thornhill, Financial Times

"even when we learned enough about how the world works to change and manipulate it — to disrupt the status quo — stasis had its defenders. And it still does today. So many historical examples of this in the great 2019 book, “The Technology Trap.”

James Pethokoukis, AEIdeas

"The Technology Trap offers a rich account of the history of automation...  If anything, the corona-crisis has made this 2019 publication even more relevant. The lockdowns will likely accelerate automation in the workplace, and in the wake of the resulting economic decline and rising unemployment, questions around jobs and automation will become more politically fraught than they had been up to now."

Justin Nogarede, The Progressive Post

"The Technology Trap... wird wieder Aufmerksamkeit erregen."

Patrick Bernau, Frankfurter Allgemeine

"The Technology Trap is the perfect book for higher ed people to read... deeply researched and convincingly argued"

Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

"Carl Benedikt Frey has written an important and timely book... A great deal of effort, thought, and scholarship went into its writing, and it shows. There is much food for thought here and I can envision this assigned in upper division economics classes as well as some graduate courses."

Alexander Field,

"One of Frey’s most salient points is that our attitudes and actions toward technology can play a pivotal role in how it impacts us. A lot of stock has been put into Frey and Osborne’s prediction of 47 percent automation. But if Frey’s book gets even half the attention the paper got, it should serve to quell some of our fears around a bleak machine-dominated future." 

Vanessa Bates Ramirez, Singularity Hub

"[Frey] investigates the short, medium, and long-term consequences of the Industrial Revolution on workers, finding that in fact the changes had extraordinarily negative consequences in the short term. His lessons from this pivotal moment in history can help technology leaders avoid the biggest risks today in how we design human/AI systems in the coming age of automation."


"Frey ist ein hervorragender Analytiker der Probleme der anstehenden Veränderungen."

Stephan Scheuer, Handelsblatt

"The Technology Trap is a reminder that the future of work depends on policy choices. It is well worth reading."

Ravi Venkatesan, Book Review Literacy Trust

"Frey offers a refreshingly human-centered analysis of technological progress."

Oscar Schwartz, Stanford Social Innovation Review


Masood Ahmed, CGD Policy Blog


Chris Gibbons, Acumen

"I highly recommend The Technology Trap"

Randal C. Picker, University of Chicago Recommended Reading

"Frey’s observations and detailed historical analysis are useful for even those of us who cling to a more optimistic view of the long run."

Michael C. Munger, Law & Liberty

"I have been lost in [The Technology Trap] for the last 10 days."

John Harris, The Guardian

"It’s clear The Technology Trap has plenty to teach us, and should automatically be on the reading list of any serious policy maker or politician"

Ben Ramanauskas, Cap X

"Carl Frey and Michael Osborne ignited everything from robot hysteria to outraged denunciation, the latest in a cycle of visceral emotion that has accompanied every wave of new technology since before the Industrial Revolution. Frey's new book: "The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation" pivots off of the now-famous 2013 paper to answer whether the hysteria he and Osborne kindled is justified. …. [The Technology Trap] has a strong case.

Steve LeVine, Axios Future


"There is little reason to doubt the contemporary relevance of Frey’s analysis into the consequences of automation on the labour market, and the broader socio‐political implications of those technological changes which are highly anticipated to reshape our working lives and economic existence as we know it. The voluminous public commentary about technology, and public protests against the ramifications of technology change (such as taxi drivers decrying peer‐to‐peer ride‐sharing services which rely on smartphone apps), serve as sufficient warrant to pay attention to Frey’s contribution."

Mikayla Novak, Economic Record

"In this important new work of applied history, Oxford economic historian Carl Benedikt Frey draws on the experience of the first and second industrial revolutions, as well as the first computer revolution, to offer answers to some of the burning questions of our time. His key point -- that technological disruption of the labor market is usually painful in the short run, whatever the long-run benefits of innovation -- is of vital importance to voters and policy-makers alike." 

Niall Ferguson, author of "The Ascent of Money"

"The Technology Trap is a subtle, wide-reaching exploration of the relationship between technology and labor over centuries of history. Frey shows how the impacts of automation upon the British and American workforce have been shaped by changing power structures. In its attention to the detailed determinants of change, his book is a hugely welcome antidote to today’s surfeit of sweeping predictions about the future of work."

Baron Robert Skidelsky, author of "Keynes: The Return of the Master"

“How will artificial intelligence affect the future of work? In The Technology Trap, Frey answers this question through a comprehensive, insightful analysis of the relationship between technological advances and work, from preindustrial society through the Computer Revolution. He predicts that intelligent machines will reduce the demand for human labor while yielding significant productivity gains. Societies will differ in how they choose to distribute these gains."

Laura Tyson, Chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers 

"Carl Frey’s highly original, admirably engaging, and deeply researched book should be read by anyone interested in how technological change will disrupt not only our jobs, but also our politics and society. By comparing the current age of disruptive technological change with the Industrial Revolution, The Technology Trap provides unique and timely insights which we ignore at our peril."

Ian Goldin, author of "The Age of Discovery"


"In this book, Carl Frey brings a new perspective, that of historical experience, to tackle some of the most important issues of our time. Offering the clearest account that I have read in quite a while regarding current problems around employment, technology, economic performance, and globalization, Frey provides the technological background to Thomas Piketty’s analysis of inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century."

Jane Humphries,  author of "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution"

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