The Robot Future Requires Job Retraining

Television coverage of automation’s threat to the world of work is not common, so it was nice to see Fox’s segment on Friday. The report is decent regarding the need to rejigger education to align with future employment in the tech environment. It is certainly true that robots will require oversight and programming, but the big automated picture means job loss for many people.

If businesses couldn’t save money by automation then why would they invest great sums of money to re-outfit their factories? It’s true that manufacturing is returning to the US because automation reduces labor costs and having production close to the markets is a money saver. But where will the shoppers come from when in the future millions of Americans suffer from technological unemployment?

The admittedly brief Fox piece did not mention any of the expert warnings about the jobless robotic future: Oxford researchers forecast in 2013 that nearly half of American jobs were vulnerable to machine or software replacement within 20 years. Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi believes that in 30 years humans will become largely obsolete, and world joblessness will reach 50 percent. The Gartner tech advising company believes that one-third of jobs will be done by machines by 2025. Forrester Research Inc. has a more optimistic view, that there will be a net job loss of 7 percent by 2025 from automation.

Finally, is it not obvious that the automated future completely erases any need for immigrant workers? In fact,

Automation makes immigration obsolete.

Can robots create jobs for humans?, Fox News, by Jonathan Serrie, July 7, 2017

As President Donald Trump seeks to reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing, many industry leaders are looking to robots as the most efficient way for American factories to compete with cheap labor overseas.

“We think robotics has had a positive impact on U.S. manufacturing by creating better, safer and higher paying jobs for American workers,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a trade group. “Most importantly (robotics is) making American companies more competitive so that they can expand their business and ultimately, in many cases, add more workers than they did before they started automating.” (. . .)

“Instead of doing away with a job, we still have to have someone to be able to operate that robot. We have to have someone to be able to program that robot and someone to be able to work on it,” said Rick Maroney, director of the Alabama Robotics Technology Park.

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