Here’s an 8 minute video that has nothing to do with the law and–at first glance–not much to do with the economy. But it has lots to do with the economy because it demonstrates that, thanks to computerization, automation and robotization, the need for truck drivers, chauffeurs, deliverymen, etc. , is going to shrink and perhaps disappear over the next few years.
Caterpillar is automating trucks the size of your house and eliminating their drivers. So long as the technology works, it will undoubtedly be safer, more reliable and less costly than using trucks that include drivers.
But what’s going to happen to the drivers? Will they be trained to become systems’ analysts, rocket scientists or medical doctors? Or will they become permanently unemployed?
There’s a fundamental problem with robotics, automation and computers. The first people to be replaced by robots will be those who are least intelligent and who have heretofore had fairly menial jobs. But, as menial occupations are increasingly filled by robots and automation, where will menial workers find new jobs?
Increasingly, they won’t find new jobs. The first jobs taken by robots will be from people who lack the intelligence to get better jobs. Then what? They don’t have to work? They just live on welfare? I guarantee that the people and companies who own robots will scream about the injustice of having to pay high taxes to subsidize the people who can no longer compete with the robots. The people who own robots will be rich. Congress will listen to them, cater to them. Congress will pass laws to cut welfare payments to former menial employees and may even seek to pass laws to eliminate the “menials”.
The menials will suffer, riot or even die.
And then the automation technology that allowed trucks to “drive” without drivers, will allow the businesses that run those trucks to operate without mid-level managers–and a whole new class of people will become permanently unemployed and unemployable.
Eventually, almost no one will have a real job.
Once that happens,how long will it be before someone inevitably asks, Why do we need all of these unemployed people? If we didn’t have so many unemployed people, we wouldn’t need so many robots; we wouldn’t need to mine so much iron ore, grow so many GMO crops or pollute so much of the atmosphere.
Once our jobs are taken by robots, we become unnecessary.
Once we’re deemed unnecessary, the impulse to “cull the herd” will become almost irresistible.
I’m not talking about some sort of genocide that takes place a century from now in some highly futuristic scenario. I’m talking about impulses that already exist in private and can be expected to “go public” within the next ten to twenty years when it seems clear that we can’t afford the unemployable.
• What happens to China–a nation populated by hundreds of millions of menial laborers–when tens of millions of their industrial jobs are taken by robots? Chinese industries will be compelled to automate if they want to remain competitive. But if they automate, millions of Chinese people will lose their jobs and find no alternative jobs. What then?
Assuming that automation will cause the US job base to persistently shrink over the next decades, why are we allowing–even encouraging–illegal aliens (cheap labor) to enter this country? We’re bringing millions of illegals into an economy that won’t even be able to provide enough jobs for those who were born in this country, and not enough welfare for those legal Americans who’ve been replaced by robots.
What are we going do with all the people who’ve been “outsourced” by robots? How will we support them? What will they do with their lives? Become craftsmen and artisans–or drunks and drug addicts?
Automation and robotization are on the verge of causing some extraordinary, profound and even spiritual issues which may not be amenable to “humane” solutions.