3 million jobs lost due to robots


Two to three million jobs are possibly lost due to technological developments. At least, this could one read in the headlines of several newspapers in fall 2014. Some refer to this phenomenon as the Future Of Work, in which information technology is used to improve the workplace. Often this is associated with working at home, which is also made possible through these developments. Whereas 20 years ago not one Dutch household possessed a PC, one cannot think of a household without Internet connection. A more radical phenomenon of the technological developments is robotization. What is the effect of this development on the labour market?

Examples of robotization in different sectors:

  • Packbots: small robots used for logistics and transport. Packbots were originally built for the army, but are also currently used as support for warehouse personnel;
  • Drones: flying robots used in health care and transport sectors. In health care, one can think of a drone equipped with a defibrilliator which arrives at the incident earlier than the ambulance.
  • Self-driving cars: do not have an impact on the labour market at this point, but it could be that the function of bus and taxi drivers becomes obsolete due to these vehicles.

 

Pros

Robots are never sick, they can work 24 hours a day and do not ask for a higher wage. An example is Amazon: robots are used to support warehouse personnel, which has improved efficiency significantly. At the same time, robots made work easier for employees, as robots take over jobs we do not like. Focusing on health care, robots can cause a higher quality of life of elderly people. With the ageing population, this need becomes more important and robots can be the solution to this issue. They could help these people going to the toilet, get out of bed or manage the intake of medicine. Some even argue that the robotization will create more jobs, because these robots require maintenance and development.

Robot

Cons

As mentioned, Asscher does not rule out that there won’t be enough paid work in the future. Due to current technological developments, labour could be replaced by robots and machines. Especially lower educated people, such as accounting staff, taxi drivers, merchandisers and pizza deliverers will suffer most from this development.Self-driving taxis, automatic payment methods and financial analyses executed by robots all lead to the obsolescence of human beings in the labour market. Also, regulation is making these developments more and more accessible, speeding the robotization of the labour market.

Is robotization taking over our labour market or is this just a hype? Do we still need people for the human ‘touch’ with our customers?

 

References:

ICT-Magazine (2015) EU: 4 mln voor onderzoek naar robots in de zorg, http://ictmagazine.nl/5812/eu-4-mln-onderzoek-robots-in-zorg/, 12-10-2015.

Phil for Humanity (2015) The Pros and Cons of the Internet Of Things, http://www.philforhumanity.com/Internet_of_Things.html, 12-10- 2015.

RTL Nieuws (2014) Asscher: baanloze toekomst door robots, http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/economie/home/asscher-baanloze-toekomst-door-robots, 12-10- 2015

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