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Is technology cannibalizing jobs?
Tue, 26 Mar Pre-Open

Technical advancement is critical to a nation's growth. But at the same time it also gives rise to a perennial problem. Technical advancements are accused of replacing low end jobs in manufacturing which in turn results in rising unemployment. While technology improves productivity and implementation, unskilled labor gets hurt the most. This phenomenon of rapid technical advancement and rising unemployment is particularly relevant in the West.

In fact, it may be noted that since 2000, US has eliminated approximately one third of its manufacturing workforce. Also, during the period 2000-2010, most advanced nations have lost 24% of their manufacturing workforce to technical advancement. And it seems that the situation is likely to worsen further. Due to technical advancement, robots have now become more efficient, cheaper and have entered into manufacturing activities such as assembling. Until now, this section of manufacturing was well protected as human element was a prerequisite here. But with robots now being equipped to do this work as well, more people are expected to lose jobs.

It may be noted that there are 0.3 m small and medium size manufacturers in the US who can benefit from this low cost robotics model expected to hit the markets soon. And there are concerns that this could further lower the employment rate in the US.

These concerns however rest on very weak understanding of how economics work. Human history is full of technological innovation and advancements. But still most of us have found ways to stay meaningfully employed. Thus to say that robots are responsible for unemployment and would eventually replace all human work and effort is illogical we believe. Just as in the past, new avenues for employment would certainly open up this time around as well and we humans will have something to do.

There could of course be disruptions like there was when mankind moved from farms to factories. But to say that such disruptions will be of the permanent kind is really taking it too far. Thus, let us not be too concerned about these false stories and keep adding more value to ourselves so that we are not replaced by our fellow humans in this intensely globalised and competitive world.

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