Where The Jobs Are: Robot Technicians, Robot Handlers..

This entry was posted by Thursday, 1 July, 2010
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No Humans?

Technology CREATES jobs, right?

Unemployment’s kinda high.

Slow economy.

To get through the rough spot, employers have been p-r-e-t-t-y creative. Every possible trick. Technology aplenty.

Not that I’m worried. In Business Week, I read that robots create more jobs than they destroy. Robots, kiosks, voice recognition system. All fruits of the labor of human designers, manufacturers, implementers of all kinds.

If anything, technology means more jobs and more interesting work.

Well.

Jeff Burnstein, the author of the Biz Week article I quote above,  is head of the Robotic Industries Association.

Tongue.

Cheek.

Here’s the thing. Some things’re true till they aren’t anymore.

Then, they’re not so true.

Robots have been around. We’re used to them. Nobody died. (I could research this. Maybe a robot ate somebody.)  And, at times, employment’s been just fine while “machine heads” were welding away at car companies.

In bad times, we target our rage at giant job sucking winds wafting Mexican spices our way. But technology is our friend. More jobs than it eliminates.

This is CERTAINLY what MISTERScienceAintSoBad likes to think. He is a HUGE proponent of techology and science (‘case you haven’t noticed). Huge.

But I got this day job, too. Where I’m sposed to be objective. Look at evidence. Scientific approach. (Science is an elaborate way of being honest with ourselves. You can quote me.)

So.

What’s WITH this sticky, sticky unemployment number that’s spooking investors? Maybe something new is happening. Maybe we’re slipping into the “robotic age” – the one where all our work’s done by machines? Where we live lives of leisure, living on I don’t know what?

Matthew Bleicher’s (Robots FTW) unsure. His “bet” is that us human’ll still get to flip a burger or two. But he admits he could be wrong.  Rosemary Black (NY Daily News)  describes the way that robots are now being deployed in the work place “side by side with humans”. She describes a hospital in Silicon Valley where “..Tug robots deliver meds, take out the trash and even speak politely to human workers and patients. Leasing the robots costs the hospital about $350,000 annually, while hiring that many people would have cost more than $1 million a year.”

Katharine Gammon (Wired Magazine) is less nuanced. She says robots are “stealing” American jobs in warehousing.

Larceny.

Where’s  this leading?

PUNCH LINE

The punch line? Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works, talks about ordering food at a MacDonald’s kiosk.

Too good. Too easy. The kiosk was fun. Got him thinking. He sees a “seismic shift” in the American work force for which we aren’t prepared. He points to  five million jobs lost from the retail sector already. Just the beginning, he says. You wait.

MisterScienceAintSoBad has to let you down. Can’t give you the definitive answer here. Can’t boil down the evidence. There ISN’T “evidence” for future events. We don’t yet KNOW if technology’s starting to truly destroy the base of employment).  We DO know that vigilance is the price of living in this century. Can’t live yer life by cliches . Real estate CAN go down.  So can skyscrapers. So can economies.

Things change. Expect the unexpected.

In the past, technology HAS created more jobs than it has taken away. A truism.

We hope.

Note to investors. If, by some chance, we ARE in the middle of “the big one” where  technology crowds humans out of the workplace, this has implications. High unemployment may NOT mean recession anymore.  The “salaries” of the unhired workers wind up in balance sheets as “retained earnings”. Which isn’t very fair, is it?

So.

In the interest of fairness, social justice, and, most important of all, social order, gotta figure out a proper way to get those resources back to the new leisure classes before they get too bony.

Should be a mere exercise in Democracy, right?

What do YOU think?

One Response to “Where The Jobs Are: Robot Technicians, Robot Handlers..”

  1. What next? Robots will be manufacturing buggy whips!


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