“Rise of the Robots, Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” by Martin Ford
“Rise of the Robots, Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” by Martin Ford
In his book, Ford talks about the role of technology in the change that has been experienced by the modern day economy where robots have become an important player in various economic sectors. Robots have joined the workforce and have proved to be more effective in ensuring that the issues of economic domains, which require the physical aspects of work, especially manual labor, are well addressed. The operation of robots has spread across various industries showing how much the economy has benefited from technology. Even with the advantages gained from the use of robots, there are a number of legitimate concerns of the future of human resources and welfare, as the robots are poised to take over almost all aspects of the workforce with the rapid development in technology.
Benefits of Robotics and Technology
Ford has brought to the fore the fact that in the modern world, robots have made work easier in various sectors of the economy. They have also made the lives of people much more comfortable by replacing the manual labor in some fields since the post war world. Thus, Ford indicates that there are a number of benefits derived from the use of technology.
The area, which is most affected by advancement in technology is the manufacturing industry in the developing countries. Machines have taken over all the aspects of production to the extent that the human labor is no longer needed in many of these states. The speed with which these robots work is unrivaled, and this makes the human labor less valuable. Advancement of technology has enabled the use of robots in more complex tasks, which they perform with great precision and high speed as well as within the time allocated hence making it easy for the firms to meet their targets in manufacturing at all times.
Major industries that have specifically felt the positive impacts of robots are the vehicle assembly industries that have used these machines to ensure that they are able to get many tasks performed within the shortest time possible, which made it easy for such industries to meet the market demands without any shortages (Ford, 2015). Since robots only need to be programmed to work and can process huge amounts of information collected through the computer systems, these machines fulfill difficult duties of the firms with just a few people programming the robots and securing that the latter are able to complete these complex assignments as required.
The robotics technology has helped in accessing various services, which in the past were difficult to provide. Specifically, the service industry has undergone numerous transformations in the last few years due to the use of technology. For instance, banks have ATMs that enable people to get money at their convenience without going and queueing at the bank for hours (Ford, 2015). It is much easier to withdraw money and check the account balance without the tedious process of waiting in a long line for the teller to provide such information. Vending machines have also been introduced in various parts of the world that contributed to better access to goods and services without the necessity to attend retail stores.
Indeed the role of technology in the modern world has brought services to the closest area possible, namely to “the click of a button.” Amazon and E-bay, which offer online retail services, give direct access to various goods and services in any part of the world. Moreover, people are able to access almost everything that they need at home, as these products can be delivered after being ordered. Even the fast food industry has not been left behind in the use of technology, as McDonalds also made it clear that they employ the technology to enable their customers to order the foods online (Ford, 2015). In this regard, technology has simplified the life of individuals around the globe, especially in the developed countries.
The application of technology in the security and intelligence is another important milestone. The cloud robotics supported by Google has allowed the storage of considerable amounts of information on the Internet, which has made it easy for government bodies to record important data that can be needed to ensure protection of citizens. Intelligence agencies use such machines as drones to collect information without the risk of sending agents to do that kind of work (Ford, 2015). In the process, the information gathered by these machines is accompanied by visual evidence and shows the exact geographical locations. Therefore, the use of machines, in particular drones, is important in boosting safety and security of various countries where these machines are utilized.
Technology has also positively impacted the academic sector with a lot of information being stored online. Books, journals and other important learning materials can be accessed through e-libraries that provided learners with the access to the materials that they need for their studies. Hence, this saved people from the burden of searching for information in physical books that in some cases are too bulky; as such, learners are able to proceed with their studies more comfortably.
Threats to Employment
During the last few years, robots have taken over various jobs in almost all sectors of the economy, which has reduced the number of employed people in some fields. The human workforce has been affected significantly by the growing use of robots globally, and this has led to a worrying trend concerning the future of human beings in relation to their welfare and the standards of living. Although one might argue that technology has been beneficial in the modernization process that the world has undergone, it is now a matter of concern, as it has come at the expense of the jobs that people often relied on for their survival (Ford, 2015). Even though the firms that create robots might be employing more staff members, the vast majority of workers in the developed countries especially in the USA are losing jobs in almost all sectors of the economy, and that has become a major concern now.
The automation of most domains of the economy is a serious threat to the job industry and it can be categorized as the flipside of technology, according to Ford (2015). The rate at which jobs vanish in all sectors of the economy in the USA as well as in the rest of the developing world is a critical issue to many individuals regarding the future of jobs around the globe. It is also interesting to note that the process of globalization has made even the developing countries adopt technology in various areas so that the cases of unemployment are spread even in these regions.
The issue of machines and technology displacing people in their jobs has impacted almost all sectors of the economy including retail, service industry, agriculture security and intelligence. In these fields, the utilization of machines has been employed more than the use of human labor in offering their services.
Additionally, these industries have been affected, as many people who were previously involved in the sales have been replaced by online sales adopted in the recent years. In this respect, numerous individuals who lost jobs in the retail industry have been deprived of their means of livelihood and as such have remained jobless. Thus, this fact is mainly attributed to the fact that technology has rendered their services useless. Besides, those who lost their jobs in the USA and other developed countries have further been disadvantaged since they did not have any means to challenge their losses, as the trade unions that advocated for the rights of workers in the 1950 and the 1960s are no longer existent. Therefore, people are not able to protest against such changes. The industries that one would not expect to lay off employees due to technology such as the fast foods industry have also undergone transformations; thus, big firms, for example McDonalds, are also planning to use automation to ensure that they make their services more efficient (Ford, 2015). The staff members involved in sales and distribution are exposed to the risk of losing their jobs since many customers are enabled to place their orders online and have them delivered within an agreed time. Thus, many of the employees who were previously attending to long queues in such places would not be needed anymore.
Banks are not spared, as technology has provided for the use of robots like ATM machines to deliver services to people; hence, very few workers are required in banks since many of the individuals who need these services are likely to approach ATMs at any time and do the necessary transactions.
Threats to Socio-Economic Equality
On the basis of the argument presented by Ford in the book, the continued, ever-growing and advanced use of technology poses a threat to the socio-economic equality that can have future political repercussions. The fact that technology drives many workers out of employment creates a serious societal division in which classes are formed. Thus, these are classes of the rich and the “others”. In this regard, the latter are the middle class and the poor. Globally it has been recognized that the most important way to get the means of subsistence and to live a good life where all the needs are met is by having a well-paid job. However, technology denies many people this privilege because they lose their jobs as a result. Economic recessions deprive the society of decent jobs and after the downturn, the positions that are created are much worse than those that were destroyed by the economic decline. By contrast, some of these post-recession jobs are rather low-paid. In these circumstances, the individuals who suffer the most are the middle class that the poor who have to struggle to satisfy their daily needs.
The wealthy citizens who are mostly the owners of the means of production such as the industries prefer to use the machines and technology since this helps in saving on the expenses, namely those that would be allocated for remuneration of workers. In this regard, the prosperous members of the society have the ability keep their wealth, as the application of technology would enable them to run their businesses. On the other hand, the condition of penurious social strata who have lost their jobs can only get worse, as they are deprived of the sources of livelihood and remain with nothing.
The creation of classes is considered a factor that can lead to future political instability. In referring to the analogy of the winner who takes it all, Ford makes it clear that in such circumstances those who lose are likely to try and gain some stakes of what they have lost. In this respect, that fact that numerous workers unions have dissolved and there is no way people can advocate for equality, it is a serious concern that one can easily turn to the use of other means to get what they feel that they have been denied because of the job loss. The aspiration to get the position might involve the socio-economic unrest created by the existence of the two classes and facilitated by the issues of inequality.
The use of technology has both the benefits and the negative impacts on people in the contemporary world. As much as the modern technology, which has allowed automatization of tasks in various areas of the economy and human life generally, is important, its effects have also been felt heavily across the world threatening the welfare of the society to some extent. In this regard, it is essential to note that the humankind has to devise more creative ways of overcoming the challenges that technology has presented in order not to consider the use of technology as a factor that brings more detriment than good to the global community.
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