By Ed Duffy
The robots are coming! The robots are coming! Seriously, they are. They are already at work in many airports, warehouses and soon you'll see them in the local Walmart, taking inventory and cleaning floors. There have been dire predictions about the loss of human jobs to these machines. After all, they don't get sick, they don't complain and they can't sue you. These features and more make them very cost effective productivity tools. They are also why you don't have to worry about not having a job because there are too many productive, intelligent robots in the world.
Breakthroughs in materials technology, information technology, artificial intelligence, memory storage and manufacturing, among others have made the dream of servant robots reality. We're still in the early stages, but there will be many more, because they work and people want them, whether it be a self driving car, a delivery drone or a floor scrubber.
To someone who is not familiar with free markets and free people or the dynamics thereof, this would seem like a bad deal for workers. In their minds, if you get paid to mop a floor today, and you don't need to mop the floor anymore tomorrow, you're just an out of work floor mopper, who will need to be cared for by someone else (the state) for the rest of your life.
Here is the reality. Put yourself in the employers shoes. I have a hard working, honest, loyal employee for 8 hours a day. I can't run a business with a dirty store. The cleaning has to get done. Also, the shelves must be restocked and the windows washed. My hard working, honest, loyal human employee spends 6 hours a day at this tedium, because it has to get done. It's not optional. Now, I buy a machine or machines that can do all that. Do I fire my hard working, honest, loyal human or do I put him to work interacting with current and potential customers and or vendors, which is where the real money comes from?
Sweeping floors and pulling cans out of boxes, believe it or not, is not the epitome of productivity for a human being. Dealing with people, coming up with ideas, being creative, brainstorming, helping to create a pleasant experience are far more productive and lucrative activities for humans. We haven't deployed most of our human resources that way because we couldn't, up to now.
Yes, the robots are coming and it's going to be great. Think of robots and AI as tools that will make everyone more capable and more productive. If there is a crisis of labor in the future it will be that there is not enough human labor available to do all the great things we can suddenly imagine that would be completely feasible if only we had enough people to execute them. Human labor is going to get more expensive, because it's going to get more valuable and sought after. Don't fear the sweeper. Invest in one.
Don't Fear the Sweeper
- Written by Editor
- Category: Opinion
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By Ed Duffy