1445212982387A viral video of  a robot programmed to say no has spiralled through the internet and attracted hundreds of millions of views. Researchers at the Unversity of Massechutsists are testing a robot which has been trained to deny human instruction based on scenarios.

If this is a shock to you then you are quite behind on the status of robots in  the 21st century. You might not even know that they are after your job

They are everywhere! Car parks, supermarkets and now even in restaurants. This is not a new problem. Jobs have been lost  at the hand of technology ever since the introduction of the Spinning Jenny in the industrial revolution.  Aristian weavers lost their jobs and quickly had to find new ones in order to meet the demand for cotton. As business increasingly tried to find new ways to cut costs automation became the key to more production and less cost. A recent report said that 47% of jobs will be automated by 2034.This not relating to mid skilled labour such as cashiers and janitors but bricklayers, lawyers doctors and surgeons. A BBC report highlighted that a Chinese factory  in Hon Hai will replace 500,000 lawyers, surgeons and public sector workers  robots in three years with its pursuit to make processes more efficient.

The optimist would say that well like in the past we will find alternative jobs for people to do. This being true the rate at which automation is happening now has resulted in us not reacting quick enough. A study by Oxford Martin school study states that we  ‘will have to acquire creative and social skills in order to beat robots to their job’. Scary thought.

This is as a result of competing international markets as states and companies must keep their technologies up to date in order to ‘ensure that their enterprise are as efficient as possible’ (Robert O’Brien and Marc William 2013)

This is not also just taking away skilled labour jobs for the working class but also cutting costs and benefiting those who have the ownership of production. An economist article states that ‘the share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today’. This showing the ever growing increase of automation leads to the rich society benefiting from the extra product it creates.

This is a startling beginning for the political economy as the cracks of this epidemic are already beginning to show in the record low employment rates across the world.

All we can do is hope we can say no when it all gets a bit too automatic.

Harry Phinda


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