It would be a mistake to think that automation is a first-world affliction only. As the cost of robots decrease, they will replace workers in the third world also. (See my Social Contract article on this topic: How Automation Threatens Third World Stability.)The video below produced by the VOA News observes, the automation-caused “loss of livelihoods could have far-reaching repercussions including the mass migration of displaced workers.” Third-world nations don’t have unemployment insurance and welfare programs to cushion unemployment, so millions may head for the generous first world to see what freebies they can get.World Bank President Jim Kim says the time to act is now: “And so for every country in the world, we have to think very seriously about what are the investments we need to make right now in order to prepare ourselves for the economy the future.”The World Bank is not my favorite institution, but Kim’s admonition to start planning now is a pleasant contrast to Washington’s total denial regarding the issue, particularly the recent blunder of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin when he remarked that the automation threat to jobs was 50 to 100 years in the future.It’s particularly disturbing that the government’s immigration import program continues on auto-pilot when the actual need for immigrant workers is getting close to Zero. Even the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) proposed by Senators Cotton and Purdue cuts legal immigration by only 50 percent over a decade.The world of work is at the beginning of a revolution, and Washington is still playing according to 20th century rules.And will the government protect the citizens from millions of economic “refugees” flooding across the border in an automation-fueled Camp of the Saints?
Automation Could Slash Jobs in Developing Countries, VOA News, April 20, 2017WASHINGTON — World Bank President Jim Kim warns that two-thirds of jobs in developing nations could be wiped out by automation, a situation that could boost conflict and refugee flows.Kim spoke Thursday in Washington as economic and political leaders from around the world gathered for meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.Kim says it is not clear how fast automation would cut jobs. He says the threat to employment opportunity comes as near-universal access to the internet means people in the poorest nations understand that others have much more comfortable lives. The result, Kim says, is soaring aspirations. Without economic growth and opportunity, those unmet aspirations could lead to frustration, unrest, or more refugees seeking jobs in other nations.The World Bank president says the issue is urgent because the world already faces serious problems with conflict, climate shock, famine and the worst refugee crisis since World War II.Kim says the solution is to mobilize trillions of dollars in private capital that currently is earning little or no interest. He says World Bank experts are seeking ways to help commercial lenders make such investments in ways that are less risky and more commercially viable. According to Kim, this is the only way to move with enough force and speed to manage a problem of this size.In the United States, worries about jobs being lost to computers and automation grow out of the millions of manufacturing jobs lost since 1999. While some politicians blame trade for these employment losses, many economists say most of those jobs vanished because of automation.While manufacturing jobs proved vulnerable to automation, research shows different results in banking, where the addition of hundreds of thousands of Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, was accompanied by a slight increase in jobs for humans. Workers who were displaced when robots took over repetitious, tedious work moved to jobs that were less predictable or that required human, emotional connections, such as sales.