Remember the legend of John Henry? He was a steel-drivin’ man on the Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia who got into a race with a steam-powered hammer. John Henry won the race, only to die in its wake.

Ken Thomas

Race against the machine: John Henry won a costly victory against automation.

Nowadays, some workers face a different kind of competition.

Some could be replaced by self-driving trucks. Others might be moved along by DIY ordering kiosks at fast-food outlets.

Technology like that could appear to be a threat to workers, and some say it’s a reason to be careful about raising wages or benefits.

But what kind of a risk does automation present to U.S. workers, and are there rewards to think about, too?

On Monday I discussed the issue with two non-robots, James Parrott from the Fiscal Policy Institute and JW Mason, an economics professor at John Jay College.