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Robots In Society And The End Of Manual Labor For Humans

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Question:

Discuss about the Robots in Society and the End of Manual Labor for Humans.

 

Answer:

One of these fine days, the world is going to experience one of the greatest unemployment crisis in the history of humankind. The crisis being right or bad will depend entirely on how the world had prepared for it. Technology is advancing at a faster rate that machine intelligence is capable of performing all manual labor tasks.

Ingelhart (2015) argues that the world is on the brink of technological based societal transformation. Furthermore, the change is likely to be bigger than that witnessed during the industrial revolution. The revolution is not just the machine driven technology for manual labor but man inventions that think at the level of human beings and beyond. Furthermore, automated systems will take nearly half of the manufacturing jobs in the next generation (Frey & Osborne, 2017).  On the same note, the second wave of transformation is yet to be fully realized, it is, however, estimated that the full breakthrough would be achieved in the 2040s and 2050s. Technology and its effects on the manual laborer's workforce are not a new phenomenon. Furthermore, it is not an impediment to those people who are eager to work. For instance, the invention of internal combustion engines may have rendered many carriage assembly workers jobless, but it created many jobs in the advertising, manufacturing, and automobile maintenance industries.

A report by the Deloitte consultancy firm estimates that through automation, though the economy of Australia has benefited, 800,000 have been lost since 2001. Furthermore, the report indicates that it is likely that more than 11 million manual jobs are likely to be lost within the next decade through automation of tasks performed by the manual workers (Rossel, 2015). The manual labor markets have never witnessed such a massive change in the workforce. The potential consequences are clearly being witnessed by the decreasing number of employed manual laborers. Moreover, the continuous application of robotic machines to replace the human workforce is an urgent issue facing many nations. However, many governments have failed to address the issue. Many nations have been unable to set up cabinet committees to come up with solutions or even look at the impact these robots have had on the economy and the ethical dilemmas they potentially have on the masses. In addition to that, many nations have failed to come up with a clear way of sharing revenues generated through the use of robots (Dom & Hanson, 2015,pp621-46).

The traditionally intellectual jobs are not also safe anymore. Machines such as Watson system by the International Business Machine that was famous for the win in jeopardy is likely to take over jobs involving large data (Carayannis, 2010). Doctor and lawyer jobs are in danger of being fully automated through the use of robots due to the ability of robots to integrate and consume more information than human beings. Similarly, traditionally intelligent jobs will be the first to go in this technological transformation. Moreover, we should appreciate the nature of machines. Technology has brought with it machines with creativity, robots able to compose music and write stories.

 

The invention of machinery focused on the replacement of dull routine tasks with automated interfaces. Computers, for instance, was capable of executing complex mathematical calculations seamlessly, computations which previously was performed by a large number of people. Furthermore, the strides achieved in the 20th century, however, is far much advanced than those of the last fifteen years (MacCroy et al.2014). With the cheap computing power, big data analytics tasks have been fully automated while complex decision making is left to a few chosen professionals.

Throughout human history, technological advancements continued to ignite frustration due to the potential of unemployment and job displacement. Back in the history of human beings, nearly 90 percent of people worked on their farms, in the 21st century, only about 2 percent of the world’s population works on their farms. During this ancient periods, unemployment was unheard.

The current trend of polarizing the labor market has led to the shrinking of middle-wage occupations while low wage jobs increase. Furthermore, many individuals who end up losing their jobs to robotic systems, easily accept low paid wages because it is easier than retraining to pursue a position demanding high-level skills (Dauth, 2014). On the other hand, many argue that government involvement in the formulation of policies can help shape the industry.

In a hypothetical scenario, two cases are true. Robots and automated machines produce all that is necessary for the survival of the human race, and human beings won’t find work and continue to lose their daily source of income because all work is left to the robots and machines (Bakkari, Rachidi & Khatory, 2015). This is the society of today. The result is that a small fraction of the population which was wealthy before automation took place continue to live comfortably while enjoying the benefits of the machine economy. The majority of the population which is poor continue to starve.

According to Heyer (2010), robotic systems have come with some advantages. For instance, efficiency in the manual work sector has been enhanced. Advancements from the steam engine to the Internet have improved our lives, have created new business opportunities and driven growth in the economy of many nations. Many automated systems are capable of multitasking. Case in point is a robot welding, riveting, bonding and installing various parts of equipment.

Hypothetically, it may turn out that advancements in automation of work processes may end up augmenting human labor instead of replacing human workforce. Furthermore, technological advancements may never exceed the mental capacity of human beings (Lin, Abney & Bekey, 2011). However, the acceleration of automated systems is continuing to widen the gap between the economic winners and losers. Many possibilities may play out in the future but the trend being witnessed is going to have a profound effect in the next century, and the world should, therefore, prepare well for what will transpire. Cheap machines will do jobs and tasks belonging to the manual laborers, and the wages of unskilled workers will continue to decrease.

In summary, a new category of unemployed and unskilled labor commonly referred to as digital losers are emerging in the 21st century. The board of contention continues to be that automated systems and robots coupled with digital technologies are continuing to be blamed for the lack of jobs. In addition to that, many people who are studying with hopes of being employed in the future are now worried. Moreover, new robots are encroaching into the skills of human’s beings in an unprecedented way. Many middle-class jobs are at the center of it all.  High skilled jobs in the education and engineering sectors are not being spared either. No economic law exists to state that anyone automatically benefits from a technological advancement. The economic elite in the society understands some workers are likely to lose out in the battle against the machine. It is imperative that the governments of affected countries step in to avert the looming crisis. A government through the formulation of policies and levies can help salvage the situation. The adoption of a machine is not disputed, but it should not be at the expense of the manual labor workforce, this is because a machine will never be more intelligent than the human brain. Furthermore, failure to deal with the crisis will continue to widen the gap between the upper class and the lower class in our society. Economic gains may be achieved through automated systems but the world risk having a population which is idle. The dangers associated with having a population which is learned or unskilled in the case of manual workers who lack jobs is like having a ticking time bomb waiting to erupt.

 

References 

Bakkari, M., Rachidi, A. and Khatory, A., 2015, December. Evolution of automated production systems in SMEs: what are the consequences for the employees?

Carayannis, E.G., 2010. Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management.

Dauth, W., 2014. Job polarization on local labor markets (No. 18/2014). Iab discussion paper.

Dorn, D. and Hanson, G.H., 2015. Untangling trade and technology: Evidence from local labor markets. Economic Journal, 125(584), pp.621-46.

Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A., 2017. The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerization? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 114, pp.254-280.

Heyer, C., 2010, October. Human-robot interaction and future industrial robotics applications. In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010RSJ International Conference on (pp. 4749-4754).

Inglehart, R., 2015. The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles among Western publics. Princeton University Press.

Lin, P., Abney, K. and Bekey, G., 2011. Robot ethics: Mapping the issues for a mechanized world. Artificial Intelligence, 175(5-6), pp.942-949.    

MacCrory, F., Westerman, G., Alhammadi, Y. and Brynjolfsson, E., 2014. Racing with and against the machine: changes in occupational skill composition in an era of rapid technological advance.

Rössel, P., 2015. The changing interaction between robots and humans in the working environment. 

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