“The Terminator” was an A.D. 1984 film starring “Ah-nolt” Schwarzenegger as a robot sent back in time to kill a particular person. I thought the movie was cool, and I liked at least one of the four “Terminator” films that were subsequently spun off from the original. Even so, the idea that robots might come to challenge mankind’s earthly supremacy seemed so technologically far-fetched that I didn’t expect to a conflict with robots in my lifetime.
Here we are, 31-years later, and it appears robots are present and already challenging mankind for commercial supremacy. They’re competing with us for our jobs–and they’re winning.
What I didn’t think I’d live to see 31 years ago, is already happening. Ohh, we’re not fighting with robots just yet. But, as you’ll see, that’s coming a lot faster than I ever expected. For now, robots are only taking our jobs.
For example, just yesterday, Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis published an article entitled “Robots About to Take Away 18 Million German Jobs, 59 Percent of Gernmany’s Work Force?” According to that article,
“I have seen many grim predictions regarding robots taking away human jobs, but one of the most dire predictions comes from a study commissioned by ING-Diba. The study claims that 59 percent of Germany’s work force could be replaced by machines and software in the coming decades. . . . Almost two thirds of [Germany’s] workforce will be unemployed. Of the 30.9 million people currently in full or part-time employment in Germany, 18 million will be made redundant by improved technology, the report claims.”
“Redundant” means “unnecessary”. What do you do with 18 million Germans who are “unnecessary”?
OK–that warning was somewhat premature; somewhat hyped. German workers might not be replaced by robots for several decades. But we’re not talking about robots replacing janitors or even pizza delivery boys. German workers tend to be very hi-tech. If robots could ever replace two-thirds of Germany’s high-tech workforce, they’ll be able to replace 80% (maybe 90%) of the workforce of the remainder of the world.
Plus, there’s always a chance that the study that projected robots would take two-thirds of German jobs in “several decades” (like 30 to 50 years) may have overestimated to amount of time required for robots to dominate. Maybe, the projected result (two-thirds of all jobs held by robots) could be achieved in less than 15 years. Maybe less than ten.
• The robot takeover is not just hype and fear mongering. Here’s evidence of what’s happening now, and at least one startling implication.
About three weeks ago, the Japan Times reported in “Robots leave behind Chinese factory workers” that,
“According to the International Federation of Robotics . . . China bought approximately 56,000 [about 25%] of the 227,000 industrial robots purchased worldwide in 2014—a 54 percent increase on 2013.
“ILate last month, the government of Guangdong Province, the heart of China’s manufacturing behemoth, announced a three-year program to subsidize the purchase of robots at nearly 2,000 of the province’s — and thus, the world’s — largest manufacturers. Guangzhou, the provincial capital, aims to have 80 percent of its factories automated by 2020.”
That’s just five years from now.
80% of the world’s industrial jobs could be held by robots within five years.
That’s scary. What kind of work will be left for those who are replaced by robots? Will they all just live their lives on welfare? Insofar as these unemployed people will be non-productive, will government search for ways to kill these “useless eaters”?
There’s another major implication that’s even scarier: robots are cheaper than Chinese labor.
Think about that. The article in the Japanese Times claims that China (not the US or Germany or some other developed nation) . . . China (which has been a source of dirt-cheap labor for 20 years) intends to replace 80% of its industrial workers with robots.
That means robots are cheaper than Chinese labor.
If robots are cheaper than Chinese labor, I guarantee that they are cheaper than American labor.
If so, whose American jobs are safe?
How will we ever reduce unemployment rates, if robots are more economical to own and operate than even Chinese employees?
Once robots take our jobs, how high can real unemployment rates go before we’re almost all on welfare, or we’re all placed in some kind of jeopardy that will shorten our lives since 80% of may have become “useless eaters”?
Government says unemployment rates are less than 6%. John Williams at Shadowstats.com says real unemployment rates are closer to 23%.
I’m inclined to believe Williams is closer to the mark.
If robots are cheaper than American laborers, are there any imaginable circumstances wherein we could ever see real, U.S. unemployment rates fall below 15%?
Thanks to robots, can we expect real unemployment rates to keep rising to 25%? 30%? Higher?
What’s going to happen to America if 30% of American adults are too costly to compete with robots and are therefore permanently unemployed and unemployable?
How can the world continue to feed itself if 30% of the world’s workers who are manual laborers are not only unemployed but no longer competitive, no longer productive and therefore unemployable and even unnecessary?
Here’s a video on real robots, real robot research on how to build better robotic weapons. This research is going on right now. How long can it before robots learn to fight against men and women?
The video is disturbing. We might see a functioning “terminator” in as little as three years.
More? Here’s another video that’s not as obviously disturbing because the robots sometimes look more “human” and less mechanical.