Part II – Robots to Rule the World? Taking All Jobs? Replace Women?

Courtesy of Mish.

In part I of Robots to Rule the World? Taking All Jobs? Replace Women? I took a deep look at numerous robot and computer technologies that are displacing workers at a rapid pace.

Will Robots to Rule the World?

Right now it appears that way. Manufacturing may be returning to the US, but automation has eliminated the human workers.

And it’s not just manufacturing. For example, consider, JCPenney to Eliminate All Checkout Clerks, Instead Using RFID Chips and Self-Checkout.

If that idea catches on for major retail stores, tens-of-thousands of jobs will vanish. Will anything replace those jobs?

Two Viewpoints

What follows is a pair of widely-differing viewpoints from an email exchange with a couple of friends regarding technology and robots. One friend talks about a collapse of society, the other sees unimaginable numbers of jobs in industries we cannot even conceive of now.

Collapse of Society

One friend writes …

When the vast bulk of production and services can be produced and delivered by computers, robotics, smart systems, and ubiquitous computing devices with only a small fraction of the human labor force we have today, we have no choice but to devise a system of income creation and distribution radically different than we have today or face unprecedented scale of labor underutilization, loss of purchasing power, collapse of the economy, and the risk of systemic societal collapse.

Unimaginable Numbers of Jobs in Unimaginable Industries

In response a second friend commented …

10 and 20 years from now, there will be jobs we cannot even conceive of now. Just as today there are jobs and industries no-one could conceive of 20 years ago. Only 70 or 80 years ago, about 70% of the population worked in agriculture. Today not even 2% of the population works in agriculture and it produces an output that is an order of magnitude greater. This is the very definition of economic progress – to free up people from the drudgery of manual labor, so they have the time to do things that add far more value to our world.

When the car was invented, all industries concerning the horse and horse-powered transportation practically disappeared, except for the remnant that still exists today to serve the horse leisure industry.  Should we have opposed the invention of the car? Luddite visions of increasing automation destroying jobs forever and ever all rely on a fundamental fallacy, namely that the economy is static. The economy is however not static, but highly dynamic. If the Luddite version of history were correct, we would all be better off if we were still living in pre-stone-age conditions. After all, the invention of the first tool surely destroyed a number of stone-age jobs. …

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