It strikes me how many robot and cobot promoters downplay the risk for human to lose jobs to automation, digitalization and the raise of new generation of robots. The fact that human workers will remain in business seems too forcefully highlighted to be true. Therefore my question: can new luddites smash robots in anger?
According to wikipedia, the Luddites were a group of English textile workers and weavers in the 19th century who destroyed weaving machinery as a form of protest, fearing that machines would replace their role in the industry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite
When it comes to promote the new generations of robots and especially those able to work safely in close proximity with humans, and even collaborate (cobots, made of “collaborative” and “robot”), the benefits put to the forefront is to help workers alleviating dangerous or health-hazardous situations. Cobots would take care of lifting and manipulating heavy loads and/or the repeated motions to grasp, move and hold parts, while the human worker would concentrate on value-adding tasks.
For those workers which would be made unnecessary thanks to automation, their future would look good nevertheless, because they would be recycled in higher-value jobs, like industrial engineering, continuous improvement and many other occupations.
It looks to me like painting the future a bit too blue and who can reasonably believe all this wishful thinking?
Knowing that most of the human tasks can be transferred to robots, Artificial Intelligence and automation, or a combination of all, can we believe that all this high-tech in development and the significant investments required will be made only to improve workers’ jobs?
Human workers will remain the weak link in automated processes in many aspects, beginning with variability: variability in availability, mood, health, discipline, focus, speed of execution, performance…
Why would investors refrain to reap all the benefits of the new solutions?
And if some would, as an act of humanity, I believe many would not have much hesitation and once the competitiveness is challenged, I cannot believe that care for humanity would count for much.
So if human workers cannot be kept in their jobs, they have to be “recycled”.
Yet the speed of progress with autonomous systems is such that most unnecessary human actors will be out of occupation before they can convert to a new one.
Besides, who can believe that ALL outperformed workers can be recycled into specialized technicians, industrial engineers, problem solvers and continuous improvers?
Who can believe we would need so many, if need at all?
My assumption is that the robot and automation promoters fear a new luddites uprising who could smash the high-tech in anger for losing their jobs.
But unlike the 19th century workers, the threatened contemporary ones have overall higher education, access to instant information. It can’t be long they understand the risks by their own or by someone else’s analysis.
Therefore, it is necessary to downplay what could happen?