News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 24, 2012: Well Romney’s Bad Choice of Paul Ryan has instilled euphoria among the right wing but done nothing useful for his prospects except ultimately making Florida far more likely to go for Obama, which means Romney has no path to victory other than a meteorite falling out of the sky and vaporizing the Sunshine State.
But let’s move on to more substantial topics this week the Big Lie neither Obama or Romney will ever address. The fundamental flaw in both their claims each will create a new generation of worthwhile jobs to propel the United States into a new state of prosperity for all during the next 4 years.
Yes the future holds fantastic prosperity for the few who will benefit from the new world of jobs-less. An article in the New York Times Magazine titled “ Skilled Work, Without The Worker” defines the age we are entering. A world without work for more and more, even less good work, in the U.S. and around the world.
There is a fundamental difference between what is taking place in society now, and what has for the last 500 years since the earliest days of industrialization. In past eras jobs and industries that were destroyed by newer processes and technologies led to more and better jobs elsewhere for most here in the U.S. and everywhere.
The fundamental difference today as presented in graphic detail in the Times Magazine article is that the “new industry” of robots and automation is unlike all those other industries. Robots and automation take every and any industry and redefines them as far less dependent on human labor, and less and less so tomorrow as the robot and automation industry continues to develop and evolve.
Here is the point – our country and society is about to be overwhelmed by the impact of robots and automation as it already is more subtlety now but ever more much more visibly with each passing year. Decades from now there will be virtually no good jobs let alone more menial jobs.
Although it may not seem obvious especially since our elected officials ignore it the persistent high unemployment figures which are higher still when they include all the unemployed not just those “looking for work” – these figures reflect the fact that more and more businesses are doing more with less labor even as the markets and the economy improves. This jobless recovery!
We are facing a crisis of Capitalism beyond the dimensions of even the Great Depression. It is not happening overnight as the Great Depression did nor will it necessarily be accompanied by significant declines in the stock markets. Not all at once. For a while in fact maybe the opposite as robust markets based on companies with higher profit margins because they are doing more with ever less human labor. Their most expensive cost factor.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney can get away without addressing the problem because it is not taking place all at once, its major impact is yet to be felt, but most of all because they have no solutions to offer. So they ignore the gorilla in the room.
It’s lucky for them this is not the election of 2016, worse 2020, or worse still 2024. Candidates in these later elections won’t be able to ignore the new reality. It will be THE issue.
The biggest question of the last 500 years is going to become what form of Capitalism is our society going to base itself in a world where entire factories are operated by robots with few if any employees except the most senior executives reaping fabulous riches for themselves while others walk the unemployment line.
This is from The Times article ….
“One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.”
“This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both
manufacturing and distribution.”
Factories as obvious an example they are for their ever expanding use of automation which most everyone can see coming – factories do not define the problem for jobs. Only one part of it!
The problem goes far beyond the factory floor to encompass virtually any and every activity humans are employed from the lowest levels jobs to the most sophisticated and highly paid.
There is different but interrelated logic to increased automation and the use of robot technology both for the lowest paying jobs and the highest. At the low end those jobs which are by definition
simple and repetitive, technology is easy applied whether in the form of robots that “look like us” or more commonly are designed to the function they are assigned and look like machines.
It is no longer unusual for newer larger buildings to use self- propelled programmed units to sweep and wax floors and do other cleaning tasks. There will be much, much more of this type of low level automation in the future. It is also happening on farms.
But it would be tragically deceptive to see automation as mainly having an impact at the lower end. We see and have been seeing the result of automation in many other fields. The fact that stock and commodity exchanges since their very beginning up until the last 10 years were all characterized by countless numbers of well paid and highly knowledgeable traders filling large floors – virtually does not exist anymore and that is another visible example of the changes taking place.
We see the advancing use of processes to replace human labor everywhere. In many fields there is far better analysis and decision making being made by sophisticated data bases programmed with the abilities of the best humans in any field made available instantly to everyone. Wealth management companies are increasing turning to these intelligent systems to make investment decisions for their clients rather than relying on the skills and temperament of a particular human investment manager. The result – smaller high paid professional staff while giving clients better
service. That’s a very good deal for the company and the clients. Not for the out of work unemployed professionals.
In hospitals, robots are replacing orderlies, even nurses making the rounds of patients and responding to their requests and doing so far better than their human counter-parts who often treat patients like animals. The robots are ALWAYS friendly and helpful no matter how often patients call them. Or for any reason!
Some of the most sophisticated surgery which no human doctor perform is being done by robotic equipment with the “assistance” of a surgeon. And yes the cost to the hospital if not the patient is far lower and the results often better.
When a hospital and patients can obtain the very best medical treatment from a “machine” that can be reproduced endlessly and supplied to every hospital to do flawless surgery 24/7 anywhere not only in the leading hospitals this becomes an example of the tremendous and positive impact robots and automation can have with less human labor. It is just the beginning today.
The examples are endless.
The significant point is what is about to happen far more than what has taken place so far. The even more essential point is that if we had elections of substance both Obama and Romney would be addressing these questions now rather than the opposite promising full employment they will never be able to deliver.
The very nature of any business by definition is to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible and produce the best product at the most attractive price. While that may be an ideal few companies achieve fully it is what any company strives to do some more some less. From this view reducing labor costs is not some “plot” to destroy workers and create more unemployment.
Reducing labor costs while operating more effectively is a logical choice and always has been. The difference is in the past human labor was almost always a pivotal part of any company. No more today and far less tomorrow.
On the other side from the reality of individuals who need jobs to live and who need good jobs to make their lives worthwhile – this new age of robots and advanced automation creates a fundamental crisis for real people that by definition society must address or chaos will result in the future. We are already seeing more modest negative impacts. The impacts will grow and grow worse.
The inherent conflict between robots and humans ultimately will impact everyone, even the wealthy and the business owners because their completely automated factory or investment company must have customers and clients for the business to exist, let alone proper. So what happens when these fully or almost fully automated businesses have less and less men and women with the means to buy their products and services. The rich can buy only so much. And there will be less and less of them to boot.
Right now that is a question without answer even if much of the impact still remains in the future.
Obama and Romney are asked to address – even if they don’t do so meaningfully – the long term debt problem, the long term Medicare problem, the long term energy problem, the long term
infrastructure problem but …
They are not asked to address the most fundamental long term problem of all automation and a world without jobs.
Since no one else is asking I will!
Here is the link to The New York Times article about robots and automation. Everyone should read it carefully.
It is the future!
About The Writer: Arthur Piccolo is a professional writer and commentator and often writes about Latin America for New Americas.