There are two viewpoints to the automation debate. While one side adamantly supports the notion that automation will lead to unparalleled job loss, the other shrugs off the possibility, instead suggesting that new jobs will replace the old ones. Even if automation does lead to an exodus of manufacturing and construction worker jobs, is that such a bad thing? After all, if robots eventually replace all of our jobs, maybe one day we won’t have to work.
For now, the prudent course forces us to consider all potential future outcomes instead of just those more favorable or most likely. According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group, automated robots are poised to strike at manufacturing and construction worker jobs over the next decade, leading to 1.2 million new robots. The reason for this is simple: the cost to purchase and operate these machines is plummeting, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
Manufacturing and construction worker jobs aren’t the only ones we stand to lose
In 2014, Lowe’s announced that an OSH store in San Jose will be the first to acquire automated customer service professionals. These robots will be able to scan items already in your possession, help lead you to various areas in the store, and even connect you to human professionals from another store if you can’t find what you need in your current location.
Meanwhile, a robotics firm in Silicon Valley has recently added a new patrol guard to its roster, and it’s called the Knightscope K5 autonomous robot. Although it can’t do much to physically harm a would-be thief or assailant, it can harass with irritating noises and request additional “living” security guards.
We’ve all heard about the ambitions of companies like Google, Apple, Uber, and even traditional car manufacturers. They intend to use automated vehicles to create markets of their own, sweeping the rug out from under traditional taxicab services. Truck drivers will also likely see their jobs vanish in the next decade or two. Clearly, automation will reduce the number of manufacturing and construction worker jobs and a lot of others – and the wave seems unstoppable.
What do you think? Should we take precautions to prevent certain industries from automating too many manufacturing and construction worker jobs? Should we withhold regulation and instead wait for the transition to occur naturally? Or is automation a farce?