People have dreamt about robots one day existing among humans for centuries, even in ancient times. One example of this is with the ancient Greeks: “Hephaestus built a bronze palace for the gods and crafted golden, robot-like statues to serve him… Furthermore, Hephaestus created: two mechanical, immortal dogs out of gold and silver in order to guard the palace of Alcinous…” (Hatzitsinidou). There was even a mention of robots coexisting with humans in ancient Greek times! Automation is the practice of substituting humans for technology in order to perform specific tasks.
There have been current news stories about people losing their jobs, specifically women in the public sector, due to increased automation. Although there is a loss of jobs at first due to job automation, there are many benefits to it that people are not informed about. Job automation could help improve the economy by creating new, better jobs, creating increased productivity, and improving worker safety. Firstly, jobs that have been eliminated by new technology will be replaced by improved, cutting-edge jobs. Also, rather than being eliminated, many careers will be transformed, as seen in the example, Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. predicts that investments in technology, including AI and automation, could add 20 million to 50 million jobs globally by 2030.
Calculating job loss is more complicated, according to the firm, because in many cases people won’t lose their jobs outright, but instead will switch occupations. In one study, the firm found that somewhere between 75 million and 375 million people may need to switch jobs by 2030 due to adoption of automation. (Hernandez) People have a common misconception that jobs will be eliminated due to new technology. However, as seen in this quote, not only will new jobs be created, but old ones will be transformed. Many people will not lose their jobs, but switch occupations. People will receive opportunities that they never thought was possible. New technology brings change and people have to adapt by going back to school, switching to a different occupation, or something else entirely.
Job automation doesn’t just replace all and any jobs, but it replaces jobs that are repetitive and that people dislike, as seen in the example, “Three, we should recognise that up to now it is the repetitive jobs that are being automated, not the ones that need ingenuity or creativity. In his speech, Carney cites data entry as one of the jobs that has now been replaced by machines. That is surely positive: who enjoys data entry?” (McRae). New machines take over jobs that were boring, useless, and something that no one really enjoyed. Now, people can find something that they love to do, instead of something that they have to do in order to make a good income. People have to look for new jobs and find new passions. This new motivation to work leads to a decrease in unemployment, which is beneficial for the economy. People would have more to spend, which would raise production rates.
The cycle would repeat upwards and would create new benefits for everyone. Not only would the economy be expanded through new and improved jobs, but it would also be expanded through increased productivity. A heightened use of robots has accounted for a rise in productivity. One instance of this is, “One recent study of the adoption of robots in 17 countries found that increased use of robots accounted for 0.36% of the annual growth in hourly worker productivity… it amounts to a substantial 15% of overall productivity growth… adopting robots also lowered prices of the goods they helped produce” (Mims). As seen in this study, new machinery creates faster manufacturing and lowered prices for the goods produced.
Those lower prices encourage a new demand for the products and a higher output, which in turn boosts our economy. Another instance of robots propelling labor productivity and output is, …Graetz and Michaels employ new data from the International Federation of Robotics to analyze the use of industrial robots across 14 industries in 17 countries between 1993 and 2007… Graetz and Michaels conclude that the use of robots within manufacturing raised the annual growth of labor productivity and GDP by 0.36 and 0.37 percentage points, respectively, between 1993 and 2007. That might not seem like a lot but it represents 10% of total GDP growth in the countries studied and 16% of labor productivity growth over that time period. (Muro and Andes) This study clearly shows that adopting robots into the labor force leads to an increase in productivity.
New machinery does certain tasks better than people would, which leads to the job being done faster. This new speed for jobs calls for products being manufactured faster. A rise in production levels creates a positive effect on the economy. Lastly, technological advances are not only created for efficiency in industries, but also to improve worker safety. One case of this is, Although organizations have been slow to implement digital technologies such as mobile applications and telematics, there has been an increase in high performing companies using cloud-based safety management systems. These streamlined platforms ensure workplace conditions are consistently examined and issues can be addressed immediately.
In addition, the recent release of ISO 45001 sets the standard for an international safety management system and provides practical solutions to worker safety. (Harris) New technology for job automation not only has benefits towards productivity, but also towards security for workers. Technology is being created specifically for the workers. Their jobs are becoming more secure and less dangerous to them. Workers that feel safer will work more, which leads to a decrease in unemployment. That means that the people will buy more items. These things go hand in hand and this cycle will help boost the economy. New machinery creates opportunities for increased safety in dangerous situations.
One case of this is, “Traditionally, oil rig workers must be on-site, doing hands-on, manual labor that is often dangerous. However, rapid advances in technology now make it possible to create a completely autonomous rig” (Jesuthasan and Boudreau). This quote shows how people are being replaced by machinery in dangerous situations and in jobs they do not want to do. Workers are being taken out of situations that could cause them harm. When people feel safe, they are more likely to continue working or get a new job. That leads to a rise in employment and new benefits for the economy, such as many people have jobs, are able to raise families, have more economic growth, more products are being demanded and supplied, and etcetera. New, better jobs, increased productivity, and improved worker safety are all ways in which job automation could help improve the economy.
New machinery benefits people in immeasurable ways. They are being misinformed and are having misconceptions about job automation. However, people should acknowledge the fact that these machines are helping them and not harming them. They do not see the benefits to it and are only looking at the negatives. Job automation was started to help the people and make life easier for them. It will continue to benefit them, but only if they acknowledge that it is actually helping them and the economy.