I’m not one of those people who thinks robots taking over menial labor from human employees is a bad thing. On the contrary, I think such a displacement could ultimately prove very positive for the species. Nevertheless, the short-term pain and suffering that this could cause for displaced workers and their families likely will have tremendous negative repercussions to the societies that are most affected in the near and intermediate-term.
Since robots entering the workforce is probably one of the most significant economic trends in the decades ahead, we should all start thinking about how to deal with what will be a major adjustment for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.
Construction work has begun on the first factory in China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan to use only robots for production, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
A total of 1,000 robots would be introduced at the factory initially, run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co, with the aim of reducing the current workforce of 1,800 by 90 per cent to only about 200, Chen Xingqi, the chairman of the company’s board, was quoted as saying in the report.
Robots are set to take over in many factories in the Pearl River Delta, the area of southern China known as the ‘world’s workshop’ because of the huge export manufacturing industry there, as labour shortages bite and local authorities face the need to spur innovation to counter the economic slowdown.
Since September, a total of 505 factories across Dongguan have invested 4.2 billion yuan in robots, aiming to replace more than 30,000 workers, according to the Dongguan Economy and Information Technology Bureau.
By 2016, up to 1,500 of the city’s industrial enterprises will began replacing humans with robots.
The provincial capital, Guangzhou, has set a goal of fostering a robot-manufacturing industry with an output value of more than 100 billion yuan by 2020, as well as automating more than 80 per cent of the city’s manufacturing production.
I haven’t written much on this topic, but I did highlight a very powerful video last year in the post, Humans Need Not Apply – How Robots Will Take Over the Economy. Here’s the video once again:
Hopefully we won’t replace all these lost jobs with what David Graeber calls “bullshit” jobs.