Thursday, May 14, 2015

Robots take jobs

 Some years ago I recall seeing a "self-checkout" machine in a supermarket. The sight blew me away! There was one clerk attending four of these automated checkout machines.

I went up to that clerk and asked if her wages went up when these self-checkout machines were installed. I remember her laughing at my question. "No!", she answered. "We are still making the same wage."

A terrible wrong!
Employers not sharing the efficiency increase of self-checkout machines is a terrible wrong! And look where this terrible wrong has led us! We have had a revolution in computerization since the mid-1980s. Nearly everybody has benefited from computerization.

  • Have employees whose jobs have been eliminated by computerization received compensation?
  • Have employees whose jobs have been made more efficient by computerization had their wages raised accordingly?  

An automated World
A world where nearly every job and task is automated is in our future. It's coming.

Isn't it better that we phase into that World with intelligence and understanding instead simply stumbling into it?

Or would you rather see your job eliminated by a robot and then starve to death because you no longer earn a living?



6 comments:

  1. Employers pay wages based on supply and demand for labor, not for how efficient they are.

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    1. Have to agree with Paul. I learned very early in life that no one is going to look after your survival, you have to do that yourself. If your job looks like it has become a dead end, time to learn a new skill, to survive. Guess that is why I have had 3 distinctly different careers in my working life.

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  2. All that saved money is what goes to stock holders, mutual funds and into 401K plans that almost all Americans are invested in. People complain about minimum wage but yet I see rvers and seniors flocking to stores like Walmart and McDonald's dollar menu everyday. Americans like cheap and based on the six years since there has been an increase in minimum wage, it appears they are happy with people living at or below the poverty line and continue buying cheap.

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  3. Hi George.... This my third try...need to respond more often to remember the process.
    I can understand your perception that the savings from automation ought to be shared with workers. However consider the "work" required before automation... the worker had to stand in a rather confined area, lift and move items from a conveyor past the scanner and then place them in a bag or on the center of the bagging equipment. Also the cashiers functions of making change, handling coupons etc.
    Now the worker stands and walks in the general area of these automatic checkouts and watches the shoppers looking for someone needing help. The shoppers are doing the "work" the checkout clerk used to do. At the Wal-Mart we go to in Florida the man working at the automatic checkouts is in a motorized wheelchair. He has a relatively good job ...as I have learned talking to him when he helped me.
    Also, consider the more macro effects... the better jobs held by the people who build, install and later service these machines... and the people making the internal components as the computer board etc.
    HAve a great summer...just a few of my immediate thoughts on this.

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  4. The leisure offered by robots has only created unemployment for the former workers. The people and corporations that own the robots are not interested in offering up any of the wealth so that the displaced workers can lead a toil free life. About 100 years ago about 90% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture. When the farmer bought a harvesting machine he was not concerned with the hundreds of men it replaced. We should have seen this happening on a broader scale that we see now and that will only increase in the future.

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  5. There are some efforts afoot in Europe to finding ways to give everyone a living wage. Tech advances have and will continue to reduce the work force. The question has become without jobs how will one support himself and the family. Many look at the ideas being floated as just another form of socialism, but they never offer any other ideas on how it can be done.

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