We have been capturing references to robots and their impact on the labour market. We believe that the trend to displace human workers will continue across ever more industries. Targets are high paying and simple routine jobs. The trend will continue as robotics costs decline and labour market costs – wages and benefits – increase. We are already seeing robots appearing in fast food restaurants offsetting increases in minimum wages.
People argue that low-paying jobs may be eliminated but high-paying highly skilled jobs will be created. While undoubtedly true, the numbers are asymmetrically biased against the low-paying jobs, the labour pool for which is growing due to our immigration policies and the decline of the educational system. The social impact is the area to be concerned about.*
People will buy a Big Mac served by a robot instead of a person if it is cheaper. And the people that argue we should simply boycott this trend are irrelevant. They lost the battle of Walmart against the downtown core of small-town America and they will lose this one.
China Is Building An Army Of Worker Robots: China plans to introduce large number of robots leaving the question of what they do with the displaced workers. The same question is one we face. Let’s see who is forced to find an answer first.
Are Robots Taking Our Jobs? There is no reason to believe jobs lost will be compensated for by new jobs created. What is clear is that the disparity of wealth will grow under automation.
From a Brookings Institute conference, the chief economist of General Electric, Marco Annunziata, presents a paper that gives an overview of thr digital revolution on industry.The impact on future labour markets is sketchy. Read The future of work in the developing world.
From Zero Hedge: Will A Robot Steal Your Job?. The fundamental basis for introducing automation and robotics lies with macroeconomics or the cost of a human worker including benefits versus the amortized cost of automation for the same level of productivity.
This is an article on automation rather than robots. The significance is the reduction of workforce for increased production, the effect robots have economically. From Mish: Miracle Twinkies Comeback.
Here’s one for rail buffs. While not autonomous robots, these machines automate the process of upgrading rail tracks by removing old wooden ties and replacing them with concrete ties in one continuous process: 2-minute short take; 25-minute video; and another 17-minute video that catches other details missed in the previous videos such as laying rails. The point is that a set of tasks that was completely done by hand by rail gangs in the 19th century is almost fully automated today. Finally, a video of an American crew replacing ties: CSX MOW Crew Replacing Ties On The Old Main Line.
In The Old Models Of Work Are Broken, Charles Hugh-Smith discusses the type of job that an escape the commoditization process leading to automated and robotic systems to replace them.
This short piece by Charles Hugh-Smith, Disrupt Or Be Disrupted, discusses industries vulnerable to major economic disruption by new technologies, especially robotics.
Zero Hedge posted good article on robotics and its impact on jobs in developed countries: The Biggest Threat To The Low And Middle Skilled Worker: Robots. Implications are for an increasingly larger and marginalized classes of individuals with low education and skills. The social impact will carry with it an increasing financial burden.
Driverless cars are becoming mainstream as a news item and consequently we don’t follow the genre. However, here is an update from Mike Shedlock that contains a reference list of the articles he has written on the topic:
MarketWatch has an interesting article on Amazon’s deployment of 14,000 robots. While they may not have displaced human workers they have displaced a need for more of them. Read Amazon deploys fleet of robotic ‘elves’.
From Mish: Meet “McCashier” Your $15.00 Per Hour McDonald’s Worker Replacement. Put this in context with the burger maker 8 links down and you can see the fully automated fast food restaurant. They’ll always need a cleaner, someone to feed the machines and a manager/technician to monitor the whole operation. But staff cuts are coming.
The Daily Mail (h/t Zero Hedge) reports: Will Apple’s iPhone 6 be made by ROBOTS? Chinese manufacturer Foxconn confirms Apple will be first customer for its ‘Foxbot’ robot assembly line. The article, really speculation about the iPhone 6, states that Each $25,000 Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year it. Whether in fact it launches in time to make the iPhone 6 is not important. What is important is that it is imminent and that most consumer electronics products will be able to assembled by robots in the near future, drastically reducing human jobs on the production line. At $25,oo0 a robot now, production costs will decline in the future while wages and benefits for human workers go the other way. Connect the dots – there are only two of them.
John Mauldin interviews an expert on robotics. The parameters for robotic applications are … something that is repetitive, and on top of that, something that is boring. If you have those two things, it’s likely that in the near future that will be replaced by a machine.
From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Will the 2nd Great Machine Age be a frightening jobless dystopia?A couple of key points: Wages don’t matter any longer. Off-shoring was just a way station. … We are back to reshoring, but without jobs and Some 80pc of US taxation is now on labour. But how do you shift this burden to wealth taxes in a world of open capital flows and competing national tax jurisdictions? – or robots don’t pay taxes.
John Mauldin in Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution: Lettuce has to be thinned. When you grow lettuce, you have to plant a large number of seeds close together and then come back after they germinate and thin them out. This is a labor-intensive process that typically takes 50 workers two days in a 15-acre field. Except now there is a new machine called Cesar that can do the entire process in three hours for a fraction of the cost. (video)