Automation Isn’t As Scary As We’re Made To Believe

Automation+Isn%27t+As+Scary+As+We%27re+Made+To+Believe

Ashleigh Perez, Staff Writer

We hear all too often about the horrors of automation. Politicians paint frightening pictures of robot takeover and significant job losses. In reality, automation benefits us in more ways than we realize. These robots we’re driven to fear are helping everyone from workers to businessmen. New York Times writer, Michael Corkery, interviewed retail workers operating alongside these job-stealing devices. Staff members develop emotional attachments to the machines, giving them names and dressing them up. The robots work around the clock, doing tedious work from cleaning to restocking shelves, making the jobs of the humans that much easier. 

Innovation in engineering has allowed for more efficient systems of work. While it’s true, robotic labor is cheaper than human labor, that doesn’t necessarily displace human workers either. New York Times blogger, Steven Lohr, explains a study conducted at Boston University that concluded that “employment grows significantly faster in occupations that use computers more.” Considering the many growing fields of science and technology aiding in the growth of automation, these findings seem reasonable, to say the least.

Although some low-income jobs will indeed be lost, manufacturing these industrial-strength robots require many people. For every low-income worker replaced by a robot, there are programmers, designers, manufacturers, electrical workers, maintenance workers, and many more to that work to get these robots functioning. Not only are jobs being offered to more people, but they also receive better working conditions. Automation has allowed for the decline of dangerous and tedious work, notably in areas that require heavy lifting, hazardous work environments, and repetitive motion. The machines that take over these dangerous jobs almost eliminate any risk of major back injuries, exposure to toxins, and carpal tunnel among workers.

Aside from humans, the environment also takes advantage of automated labor. An increase in automation would allow for more efficient uses of material, deterring over-consumption. The IISD found that this reduced consumption would reduce greenhouse emissions.

Despite all of these benefits, many choose to see automation as too much change, instead of a path to the future. They see a world in which the robots take over the workforce, leaving nothing for the humans and inciting chaos. This idea is far from reality. Humans need to be around to keep these machines functional and to create more. Even if we overlook the thought of robots completely overtaking us, these machines will still provide us with safer, more comfortable working conditions. As Nikola Tesla once put it, “in the twenty-first century, the robot will take the place which slave labor occupied in ancient civilization.”

 

Works Cited

Corkery, Michael. “Should Robots Have a Face?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Feb. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/business/robots-retail-jobs.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Technology.

Krüger, Norbert, and Ole Dolriis. “Five Reasons Why Robots Won’t Take over the World.” The Conversation, 14 Sept. 2018, theconversation.com/five-reasons-why-robots-wont-take-over-the-world-94124.

Lohr, Steve. “Automation Is a Job Engine, New Research Says.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Dec. 2015, bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/automation-is-a-job-engine-new-research-says.

Vinoski, Jim. “What’s Automation Ever Done For Us? Okay, There Is The Improvement In Worker Safety.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 7 Dec. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/jimvinoski/2018/12/07/whats-automation-ever-done-for-us-okay-there-is-the-improvement-in-worker-safety/#b5177bc771e8.

Watson, Patrick W. “The Good And The Bad Of Job Automation.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 May 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/patrickwwatson/2019/05/23/the-good-and-the-bad-of-job-automation/#457afe146429.