Previous disruptive technology in the workplace generally meant creation of new jobs elsewhere with workers in general enjoying a better standard of living. That is no longer true. The ever-increasingly use of robots in business (and the military) will not lead to new jobs because it simply doesn’t take that many people to manufacture robots. Hell, they’ll probably have robots making robots soon if they aren’t already doing so. Without corresponding new jobs, workers will be less not more prosperous.
The 1% will of course get wealthier because they’ll not have to deal with pesky humans who get sick, want to go potty, and take coffee breaks. Those onerous unions continually yapping about better pay and working conditions can try to unionize robots if they’d like. Can you see the fat cats chomping on their cigars as they cackle in glee over the possibility of killing unions once and for all?
Plus the possibilities for omnipresent monitoring of what few employees remain are just awesome. “Jones,” says the loudspeaker in the bathroom, “you’ve been in here 15 minutes. Return to your work station immediately.”
The combination of robots and cheap electricity could well unleash a new phase of profitability for corporations – and, of course, the owners of the means of production. What’s less likely, however, is that any such revolution is sustainable.
Because unlike the Industrial Revolution, which added powerful BTUs in the form of coal to augment human labor, thus creating a tidal wave of profits and increased wages, a robot revolution promises to furnish the world with stuff at the expense of human employment.
Robots are used in distribution centers as shown in the Kiva Systems video. Robots pretty much do everything except for the packaging and physical pulling of the order. However, the robot shelf comes to the order puller, not the other way around.
3D printing, which is another form of robotics, will also eliminate millions of jobs as it goes mainstream. Robot cars are already here. It’s only a matter of time until there are robot trucks on the Interstates. Drones are replacing soldiers in the military.”I’m sorry Sally but I can’t let you in the office anymore. You’ve been replaced by me.”