The U.S. has lost 5 million jobs since the beginning of the new millennium. And while many people believe this is the work of robots, economists actually report that this fear is relatively unfounded. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped professionals in the manufacturing and tech industry from voicing their concerns.
Vivek Wadhwa, software entrepreneur and Carnegie Mellon engineer, spoke with Reason.com about the evolving world and what it’s doing for companies.
“The reality is that we are facing a jobless future: one in which most of the work done by humans will be done by machines,” Wadhwa said. “Robots will drive our cars, manufacture our goods, and do our chores, but there won’t be much work for human beings.”
Though many people may feel their fear is a reasonable one, many economists have assured manufacturing employees that technology will not harm the economy.
Robots aren’t hurting us; they’re helping us, said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a lecture last year. Automation is actually bringing more jobs into our economy instead of taking them away.
“Of course, this time is different; every time is different. On numerous occasions in the last 200 years scholars and activists have raised the alarm that we are running out of work and making ourselves obsolete,” Autor said. “These predictions strike me as arrogant.”
The loss and gain of jobs
The truth of the matter is that robots are able to do what normal humans can’t. At times, that may lead to fewer humans doing the work that robots can now do.
That said, 3.5 million advanced manufacturing positions have actually been opened due to the implementation of technology for those who are good at working with computers and advanced machinery. We did lose jobs, but more jobs have been created and need to be filled, according to the White House.
The fourth industrial revolution
For those who still may be fearful, keep in mind the fact that the fourth industrial revolution isn’t solely about who can best accomplish a task, the robot or the human. Rather, it’s more focused on how the skills of both can be combined to do something greater.
Robots are able to complete repetitive tasks correctly and efficiently. They can assemble things faster than any human ever could.
Humans, on the other hand, have the expertise, experience, and knowledge that robots will never possess. The combination of robot and human in a manufacturing environment could truly create something better than anyone could have ever imagined.
Positions humans will hold forever
Even with technological advancements, there are some jobs that robots simply cannot perform. Funeral directors, psychologists, therapists, human resources managers, and countless other professionals require a certain amount of feeling and emotion.
Regardless of their skills and speed, robots are so far unable to relate to people on a more personal level than humans can. Countless positions require thoughtful responses, which is something only humans can provide.
Changing times mean changing technology. And as this automated technology becomes more advanced, people fear that robots are going to take their jobs, leaving them unemployed with nowhere to go.
However, that isn’t actually the case.
While robots are programmed and automated to do specific tasks, humans are equipped with experience and feelings, which is something robots may never achieve. There is always room for failure and mistakes in regards to robots completing jobs. With humans, it’s a whole different ball game.
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