There’s a lot of talk about whether robots will take away American jobs or add new ones. Joe Kennedy, Senior Fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation thinks we should look at this another way. In an essay at the ITIF blog, Kennedy expresses concern that fear of robots could lead to regulations which might discourage automation.
Is anyone suggesting that we should give up backhoes and make laborers use shovels in order to create jobs, Kennedy asks. He has a point. Artisanal bakeries may reject automation and consumers may support them, but we’re not hearing fast food workers demand an end to automatic dishwashers or factory workers protest against conveyor systems.
“While automation can temporarily displace some workers it also raises living standards for society by reducing costs, improving quality, and allowing people to concentrate on higher-value work,” Kennedy says. “Given the recent trend of slow productivity growth, a skills gap, low unemployment, and the swell of baby boom retirement, we should focus on enriching future workers by encouraging automation.”
Journalist John Hitch at New Equipment Digest is taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” position. Even the jobs that have recently been taken over by robots — more recently than backhoes — are mostly jobs that human beings don’t want. Like Kennedy, Hitch wants to change the focus of the discussion to how can we make sure people prosper from the shift to increased automation.
He points out that automation makes human beings safer and frees them from stultifying jobs. Add enrichment and you’ve definitely got a winning strategy.
The Economist offered a dystopian view from the future — a future in which aging populations and a broadening skills gap combined with a failure of robots to get beyond all those proof of concept points to create a world with too few workers for the jobs needed. Instead of investing in robotics and increasing automation, this sad prediction says, some countries just ended up with no nurses or plumbers.
So cheer up about automation. And if you need service or support for your Rexroth electric motion control, let us help you. We’re specialists. We can handle the oldest legacy models or the newest cutting edge technology from Rexroth. Contact us now.