Friday, Aug 29, 2014

Robots are eating our jobs

Shahin Farshchi wrote a piece for IEEE Spectrum, the flagship magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, on “Five Myths and Facts About Robotics Technology Today”.

In the article he states:

Robots are intended to eliminate jobs: MYTH – Almost every major manufacturing and logistics company I’ve spoken to looks to robotics as a means to improve the efficiency of its operations and the quality of life of its existing workers. So human workers continue to be a key part of the business when it comes to robotics. In fact, workers should view robots as how skilled craftsmen view their precision tools: enhancing output while creating greater job satisfaction. Tesla Motors is just one example of using robots [pictured above] to do all the limb-threatening and back-breaking tasks while workers oversee their operation and ensure the quality of their output. At Tesla’s assembly lines, robots glue, rivet, and weld parts together, under the watchful eye of humans. These workers can pride themselves with being part of a new era in manufacturing where robots help to reinvent and reinvigorate existing industries like the automotive sector.”

I disagree.

It is well documented that robots eliminate jobs (heck - that’s what they are for amongst other things). Shahin even shows a picture from Tesla’s highly automated factory depicting a fully automated production line without a single human around. Stating that robots are not replacing jobs but that the few remaining workers “can pride themselves with being part of a new era in manufacturing where robots help to reinvent and reinvigorate existing industries like the automotive sector” really doesn’t cut it.

Robots and automation is destroying jobs, especially at the lower end of the spectrum. At the same time we are not creating enough new jobs - which already leads to massive challenges to our established systems and will only get worse over time.

I suggest you watch this:

In my opinion what’s needed, is us collectively acknowledging the issues at hand and start a productive dialog. The 2013 World Development Report states that we need to create 600 million new jobs globally in the next 15 years to sustain current employment rates – and this doesn’t take into account potential massive job losses due to automation and robots.

We need to start working on this. Now.


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