Lo and behold to my surprise yesterday, when 60 Minutes ran a story on exactly the topic I posted about a few months back, What happens When Robots do all the work?
Pretty much this 60 Minutes story touched on all the points I discussed on my original blog posting. I recommend you watch the video here:
The piece highlights technology and automation, and the impending effects on the labor market. A new term that I learned from this story , as Steve Croft points out is “technological unemployment”, which is what economists call this trend.
The story does a really nice job of highlighting the areas where robots and automation are beginning to take over conventional and not so conventional jobs.
They also speak with a couple of MIT professors, which hint at the possibility of a dystopian future. The two professors featured in the story point out that this time technological improvement through automation is different than before. Whereas in the past new technologies and automation has created new industries and jobs while destroying others, this time because of the nature of the automation coupled with advanced computing technologies vastly fewer new jobs are created than the ones displaced, plus a broader swath of the employment landscape is affected. Its no longer just manufacturing jobs or factory floor jobs that are succumbing to automation, but jobs that once required skilled academic degrees and years of experience are being replaced by expert systems, think IBM’s Watson.
The one amusing part of the story was when Steve Croft is interviewing the founder of iRobot, he compares the cost of a soon to be launched commercial robot with the cost of low unskilled labor in China, ironically their about the same $3.40/hr. Steve quips to the founder, ” so here… you can buy one of these robots.. its like getting a Chinese worker “. Sucks for both the real Chinese worker and the American worker..
What was hinted at but not elaborated was how this emergence of automation will have a big future effect on the economics and class structure in the US and ultimately the world.
Stay tuned… in the meantime let me look up robotic mechanic jobs…. something tells me those will be in high demand .. on second thought ..at least until those too are replaced buy robotic mechanics… yikes!