As wages rise, more and more business owners are turning to machines instead of human labor. President Obama and Democrats have spent the last 8 years replacing high-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector with low-paying jobs in the services and health care sectors. But in all fairness, both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for outsourcing, offshoring, and the elimination of good-paying manufacturing jobs. Both Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated how not to build up a middle class that will support the economy.
Technology is a rising threat to jobs as more robots are used in the workplace. Since wages began rising in 2015, there has been a significant increase in the implementation of robots, starting with the fast-food industry.
In my home state of California, Zume Pizza has replaced its human chefs with robots, cutting labor costs in half. TechCrunch visited Zume Pizza for a tour of their robotic pizza factory.
In response to recent minimum wage hikes, Wendy’s is now replacing fast food workers with robots. The fast food chain announced it would start automating all of its restaurants by installing self-serve kiosks in 6,000 locations by the end of the year. Although McDonalds has already been experimenting with kiosks, Wendy’s announcement is the largest roll-out to date and will likely spark a trend leading to fully robotic restaurants.
Uber is experimenting with using self-driving cars in parts of America, and there’s a push to start using self-driving trucks for long-distance deliveries.
Research firm Forrester reports that robots could eliminate many positions in customer service, trucking and taxi service which amounts to about 6% of the U.S. job market.
Robots are slowly making their way into every industry. ICICI Bank Smart Vault now offers customers the ability to access their valuables 24 hours a day while reducing their labor costs to provide such a service.
Royal Bank of Scotland recently announced that it would soon unveil Luvo — a “human” AI that can answer questions online and mimic human empathy. This robot will be able to serve customers 24 hours a day, reduce the workforce and cuts costs.
A Swedish bank plans to use the robot Amelia for customer services. And companies in China, Japan, and Taiwan have already implemented Softbank’s Pepper robot.
Previous technological revolutions over the centuries have mainly focused on enhancing human productivity. My concern with the robotic revolution is that its goal is increasingly that of replacing human productivity.
Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen of George Mason University, who had a significant impact on my life through their International Trade course, debate the issue of whether machines will take our jobs. Tyler Cowen agrees with me that the robotics revolution is one of the leading causes of concern for the future of the US economy. Alex Tabarrok’s “don’t worry, be happy” argument is the same one we heard regarding international trade in the 90s and about how it was going to create so many jobs in the US. After 20 years of economic data, we can now say that international trade was not so good for the US economy. Economists underestimated Game Theory and the “cheat” motivator regarding currency devaluation and government intervention in the free market.
Here is the debate between Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok in its entirety and you can decide who you agree with more.