It’s a frightening prospect, the idea that one day a vast majority of the world’s jobs will be occupied by robots as opposed to humans. However, it’s difficult to make a case to company owners as to why they should keep employing humans, when statistics so heavily favor automation.
The latest evidence comes from the Chinese City of Dongguan, where a staggering 90 percent of the human workforce was replaced by machines, which in turn led to a 250% productivity increase and an 80 percent drop in defects.
The company in question is ‘Changying Precision Technology’, a company that used to employ 650 people to produce mobile phones but now consists of 60 robot arms working constantly, split over 10 production lines. The factory now employs just 60 humans, whose job is to monitor the robots arms and monitor computer control systems, the remainder of the work is done by robots.
Luo Weiqiang is the general manager of the factory and has stated that in the future 60 employees will even be too much, with an expectation for that number to drop to as low as 20 and this is a pattern expected to be adopted in factories across the world.
However, increased efficiency will one day come at a major price, which will be uncontrollably high levels of unemployment. A research project conducted by Oxford University actually found that an alarming 47 percent of jobs in the United States are at risk of becoming automated in the next 20 years. Many people assume that the only jobs really at risk are those of factory workers, however, there are already situations where robots are taking the jobs of lawyers to defend parking ticket violations, AI’s that can deliver medical identifications, and journalists. The most frightening thing is that the capability of machines will only improve and therefore more jobs will become lost.
Thankfully, governments and organizations have already accepted the inevitable and are thinking up strategies in order to address the forthcoming increase in unemployment. Probably the most likely solution thus far is that of the ‘universal basic income’, which will entitle every citizen of the country to an unconditional set income on top of other sources of income.
Brief studies of this method have already taken place in countries such as India, Canada and Finland, with many hopeful results coming to fruition already.