I have posted a few times before (see ‘robots’ in the tag cloud for other articles) about the potential threat to human jobs due to robots. President Obama’s February economic report to Congress contains a similar warning. This comes from a report by the WhiteHouse’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
The CEA study shows that low paid workers (those making less than $20 an hour) are the most threatened. Their study predicts that the jobs of more than 60% of American workers may be at risk.
The sections of the report “Robotics” (pages 231-236) and “Effect of Robotics on Workers” (pages 236-239) are of particular interest. That first section gives a good overview of where robots are being used and how their use is increasing. The second addresses how the growth of robotics will affect jobs.
Some points to consider mentioned in the report:
- “While industrial robots have the potential to drive productivity growth in the United States, it is less clear how this growth will affect workers.“
- “robots will take substantial numbers of jobs away from humans, leaving them technologically unemployed“
- “as machines have been able to increasingly do tasks humans used to do, this leads humans to have higher incomes, consume more, and creates jobs for almost everyone who wants them.“
- “A critical question . . . is the pace at which this [humans moving into new jobs] happens and the labor market institutions facilitate the shifting of people to new jobs.“
- “the percentage of men ages 25-54 employed in the United States slowly but steadily declined since the 1950s, as manufacturing has shifted to services, suggests that challenges may arise.“
- “Inequality could increase; indeed, most economists believe technological change is partially responsible for rising inequality in recent decades.“
The best defense against replacement:
- worker training and education
- pursue high-skill jobs that use problem- solving capabilities, intuition and creativity, or low-skill jobs that require situational adaptability and in-person interactions
- work towards jobs in information technology fields, including software development, network administration, and cybersecurity.