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by   -   December 13, 2016

locus-robot-warehouse_fulfillment

A recent article in The Washington Post by Morgan Stanley strategist and author of “The Rise and Fall of Nations” Ruchir Sharma, provides a nuanced overview of the issues of jobs, robots, productivity and income disparity. 

robot_installation
image: Madeline Gannon/flickr

To discover the impact of robots on the average manufacturing worker, we analysed their effect in 14 industries across 17 developed countries from 1993 to 2007. We found that industrial robots increase labour productivity, total factor productivity and wages.

by   -   April 15, 2013

For the next week, Robohub will host a special focus on robots and jobs, featuring original articles from leading experts in the fields of robotics and automation. The goal of the series is to explore the shifting employment landscape as robots become more prevalent in the workplace, and we’ve got a great lineup!

by   -   April 14, 2013

There is no doubt that robots, and automation in general, replace humans in the work-force: all productivity-enhancing tools, by definition, result in a decrease in the number of man-hours required to perform a given task. 

This Robotics By Invitation contribution is part of Robohub’s Jobs Focus.

There may be some regional effects that result in an immediate increase in jobs (for example, setting up a new manufacturing plant and hiring workers to maintain the machines), but the global effect is indisputable: overall, robots replace human workers.

What is also true, however, is that robots create jobs as well.  This is simply Economics 101: there is a redistribution of labor from low skilled jobs – what robots can do now, and the foreseeable future – to higher skilled jobs. An analogy from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture: “In 1790, 93% of the population of the United States was rural, most of them farmers. By 1990, only 200 years later, barely 2% of our population are farmers.”  What is also true is that there are many more software engineers now than there were in 1790; or mechanics; or physiotherapists; or professional athletes; or artists.

So the debate about robots replacing human workers is, for the most part, a tired and old one; just replace the word ‘robot’ with any productivity-enhancing tool or development. And as long as the process is gradual, one can reasonably argue that society benefits as a whole.

But the question does have merit, because human workers are at an artificial disadvantage relative to their robot counterparts, and the culprit is artificially low interest rates.  Large companies such as Procter and Gamble can issue 10 year corporate bonds that have astronomically low yields of 2.3%.  With money so cheap, productivity tools – such as robots – that would not be economically viable under normal interest rates and yields are now a bargain.  Why should a company ‘rent’ labor (a human worker) when it can ‘buy’ it (a robot)?  Have we not seen this storyline before?

Read more answers →

See all the posts in Robohub’s Jobs Focus →

 

[Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil.]

by   -   April 13, 2013

There can be no doubt that technological progress has resulted in a far more prosperous society. Technology has often disrupted entire industries and, in some cases — as with the mechanization of agriculture — destroyed millions of jobs. In the long run, however, the economy has always adjusted and new  jobs have been created, often in entirely new industries. Why then should we be concerned that the revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence will lead to sustained unemployment? 

by   -   April 13, 2013

Just five years ago, anybody who spoke of technological unemployment was labeled a luddite, a techno-utopian, or just simply someone who doesn’t understand economics. Today things are very different – anybody from New York Times columnist Tom Friedman to CBS are jumping on the bandwagon.



Tensegrity Control
August 18, 2017


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