Just like horses were made redundant as a mode of transport when Henry Ford started mass producing cars early last century, there's a growing fear that humans will also soon face being put out to pasture.
That’s the controversial message at the heart of this viral video on robotics currently doing the rounds on the web. It offers a rather compelling and grim argument on the scale and impact of the automation trend.
It’s hard to miss the ongoing debate around robotics and their impact on the workforce. If you believe everything you read, this one movement is set to crush the middle class, revolutionise work and axe jobs all at the same time. It’s an issue that is being discussed at all levels of society, from the open forums of Reddit all the way to the executive circles of the Davos Connection Hayman Island Leadership Retreat.
The latest video from prolific YouTube broadcaster CGP Grey doesn’t quite hint at an outcome for the trend, but with clever wordplay and pictures he paints the rise of the robots as a negative. And in doing so makes quite a few compelling points, enough to make this columnist think twice about the prospects of a robot revolution.
To put the video to the test, we asked two experts who view the robotics revolution in a rather positive light. Did it change their mind? Well, no.
“The video is mostly accurate in the presentation of the facts, but flawed in its argument,” says senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at University of Melbourne's Denny Oetomo.
“It is absurd to imagine that the world will stand by as a significant proportion of mankind goes unemployed without reacting,” he adds.
“First world nations, which constitute the major push of automation, will not be able to sustain their economies by investing into technologies that causes a quarter of their workforce to go unemployed.”
Business futurist Morris Miselowski says the creation of new jobs will offset any losses endured by the rise of robotics. About 60 per cent of the tasks we will be doing in the next 10 years do not exist yet, he argues.
“Ten years ago hardly anyone worked in, or made, any real money in the digital and social media space and now there’s hardly a job that doesn’t contain tasks that are influenced by it, let alone the millions of jobs created within it,” he says.
Though, Miselowski admits that new technologies will pose some challenges for humanity.
“The path ahead requires us to cut the ties with many of our past norms and cultural values,” he says.
“It will require us, to re-examine what ‘work’ is, who has to do it, where and when and if that means that not everybody works then how else to people gain income, a sense of dignity and achievement.”
We held a poll in this story over the weekend. Here's the result.
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