A recent article in the Baltimore Sun investigated the topic of whether we should fear automation because of job loss. The piece is interesting because it contains a curiously balanced presentation with think tank projections for the future robotization versus current industry deflection with odd reasoning, e.g. “For every robot, you need a robot repair person.”Does every car require its own private automotive mechanic? Hardly.One of the machines considered is the Swingobot industrial-size cleaning robot, pictured below, that mops the floors in hospitals and similar places. Below, an industry video demonstrates a Swingobot cleaning airport floors:Unfortunately, the article suffers from a lack of reference links to studies it mentions. One is the report from McKinsey saying automation “could displace up to 800 million workers — 30 percent of the global workforce — by 2030.” Here’s a source:
What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, Report – McKinsey Global Institute – November 2017 . . .We estimate that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030 around the world, based on our midpoint and earliest (that is, the most rapid) automation adoption scenarios.
Another unlinked point: “Forrester Research estimates that robots and artificial intelligence could eliminate nearly 25 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, but it should create nearly 15 million jobs.” See the source at FORRESTER PREDICTS AUTOMATION WILL DISPLACE 24.7 MILLION JOBS AND ADD 14.9 MILLION JOBS BY 2027.Here the math is simple — and ugly: nearly 10 million jobs are forecast to be lost from smart machines.Still, even an imperfect article is welcome when not nearly enough public discussion is occurring about a fundamental change to the economic system. There’s not much that can be done, but certainly immigration needs to be pared down appropriately — to ZERO.
Robots are spreading through the workforce. Will they crowd out humans?Baltimore Sun, February 18, 2018The Swingobot 2000 was showing off, navigating a busy hallway at Sinai Hospital to scrub the floor. Then Tug, a smaller robot, glided up unexpectedly from behind, returning to the pharmacy after delivering medication to nurses.Tug was programmed to detect people and other obstacles in its path. It stopped, maneuvered around Swingobot, then continued on its way.For the Baltimore hospital, and for the robots, too, it was just another day at work.Before Tug, “we had pharmacy technicians and couriers who would deliver to the floor,” said Lisa Polinsky, assistant vice president for pharmacy services for Lifebridge Health. “It took the technicians away from what they were doing in the pharmacy.”Robots have long worked on the factory floor, typically bolted to an assembly line, where they can perform repetitive tasks with consistency and precision. Now a newer generation, capable of moving about among people, is finding a wider range of work, in stores, hotels, hospitals, offices and warehouses. They check inventory, make room service runs, clean floors, deliver medications, linens and food, and even assist in spinal surgery, never tiring of jobs most people find dirty, tedious or dangerous.For some, that’s cause for concern. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that this increasing automation, if adopted rapidly, could displace up to 800 million workers — 30 percent of the global workforce — by 2030.But the institute also emphasized that more occupations would change than be lost, because automation would spur demand for millions of additional jobs.Forrester Research estimates that robots and artificial intelligence could eliminate nearly 25 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, but it should create nearly 15 million jobs.“Often the fears are overblown,” said J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst for Forrester. “In many cases it doesn’t impact the total number of jobs but changes the composition.“For every robot, you need a robot repair person.”But unions say business is losing sight of the value that people bring to work, and the importance customers place on human interaction.Erikka Knuti, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, speaks of the growth of self-checkout lines at supermarkets.“Self-checkout isn’t necessarily better for the customer,” she said. “It’s not faster. You have to do the work that the company used to pay someone to do for you. …You’re now doing a job you’re not good at, saving the company money — and you don’t get a discount.“It should be a benefit to the workers, as well as the customer, as well as the company. It shouldn’t just be totally profit-driven on the company’s side.”(Continues)