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Robots Responsible for Disappearing Jobs and Mass Starvation

Updated on November 19, 2020
TessSchlesinger profile image

Growing up in a political family, Tessa joined her first political party at 14. Her interest in progressive politics & economics continues.

Without work, how do people feed themselves?

Various think tanks have spoken of the mass production of robots between 2015 and 2020. Bill Gates has not only mentioned that the general public is unaware of approaching job obsolescence but has advised those with money to invest in soft robots and artificial intelligence as they are the next wealth making opportunity.

When the cost of a robot is $25,000, and it can work 24 hours a day, doesn't need electricity, doesn't need maternity leave or a pay increase, it becomes good business to replace people with robots. And that's what's happening. As Foxconn CEO recently said, "controlling one million workers is a pain in the arse" and his company is in the process of purchasing robots to replace human beings. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has publicly announced that his company will be buying drones in order to replace postal and delivery services.

It's not only unskilled labour and trades which will be replaced by the advent of artificial intelligence, but the more highly educated professional. More to the point, while the trend is that half the world's jobs will disappear within the next five to ten years (and will not replaced by the creation of new jobs), even more jobs will be lost in the years following.

So is the age of the Robots a scaremongering fiction or is it an approaching certainty that will result in many people being without an income which, in turn, means being without food and shelter?

Lawyers are not immune from robotic replacement

According to Jomati Consultants, law firms will solely comprise artificial intelligence. Click link for further reading.
According to Jomati Consultants, law firms will solely comprise artificial intelligence. Click link for further reading.

Artificial Intelligence Replaces Doctors and other Professionals

While various magazine articles are keen to express the view that only low status jobs will be replaced, this is not true. When artificial intelligence has become so advanced that a robot can write a novel and the executives of a publishing company cannot determine whether it was written by a human or a robot, then there is great delusion in thinking that one will not be without a job within five years.

Robots which are capable of operating on the human eye have been manufactured by Preceyes Medical Robotics. The invention does what the human hand cannot do and, and as a result, the company won a Science and Medicine Innovation Award at the Euretina Congress.

Accountants are just an advanced form of calculation. There is no reason why information from a till in a retail store shouldn’t immediately be electronically transmitted to a computer which uses the information, together with information received from purchases, to prepare a balance sheet. In fact, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, since 2004, there has been a 40% decline in full time staff numbers in finance departments in large corporations. For more information click the link in the illustration.

Teachers and professors will disappear as videos and game software begin to educate on the internet. Exams will be written on the web. Anyone will be able to learn any new skill on the web, and if necessary, take exams at a different geographical location.

Far from trades and other menial work being the only jobs disappearing, professional jobs will go as well.

Articles are often written for a particular audience, and it is not good editorial policy to give one's readers bad news. So editors tend to be selective about which jobs are going to vanish due to increasing artificial intelligence. The truth is that virtually every job is now replaceable, to one degree or another, by artificial intelligence.

The Effect of AI on Jobs

Human Interaction Jobs at Risk as Well

The idea that sales jobs, or any job that requires human interaction, will not be replaced because people need to interact with each other is one of vanity. The reality is that thirty or forty years ago, switchboards were manned by dozens of people at large corporations, the idea being that people wouldn’t speak to an automatic switchboard. They will and they do. When people need a product, there is no reason why they won’t interact with a robot.

In China, waitresses and waiters have been replaced by robots. The robot approaches the diner, and the diner tells the robot what s/he wants to eat. The robot takes the order, gives it to kitchen, and then comes back with the order. The robot is made attractive to look at by looking more human. This is a branch of robotics called soft robotics.

Skilled work by robots

Click link to read article. Tesla robots do welding, riveting, bonding and install components.
Click link to read article. Tesla robots do welding, riveting, bonding and install components. | Source

The Compassionate Jobs and the Arts

Ironically while doctors may well disappear as robots xray, scan, test blood, etc. to reach an infinitely more accurate diagnoses than a doctor was ever able to, the role of nurses and caring staff may not be at such high risk. After all, human beings need companionship. Then, again, soft robotics, the art of covering a piece of machinery with a decorative and soft silicon feel-good body, is on the rise.

The arts, unhappily, are replaceable. There is no reason why a robot cannot paint a picture, design a room, make a statue, or write a book. Of course, there may be increasing snob value as to whether a piece of art is made by a 'real person' or not, but the advancement of robotics no longer makes art something solely human.

Self-learning Robots...

The Current Failing Economic System

In order to prevent mass violence and a third class-war revolution (French Revolution and Russian Revolution being the first two), the current profit making system will need to change. Ironically, the reason for replacing humans with robots is because robots don’t need light to work and they can work 24 hours per day. They don’t get sick, talk back to the boss, ask for maternity leave, need weekends off, or a two week annual vacation. They don’t need a bonus at the end of the year or an annual increase. They also pay for themselves within a year as they have become increasingly cheap to produce.

A Universal Wage

Various countries in Europe, in anticipation of mass joblessness (up to half the world’s workers within the next decade) have sought to introduce a universal wage. This is not social welfare. This is a liveable wage paid to everybody in the country, regardless of whether they are working or not.

The question by many is how to pay for this. Ideas have been put forward, e.g. tax the companies which replace humans with robots. The counter argument would be that if the company simply has to pay the equivalent in human wages that it saved by purchasing robots, there would be no point in purchasing robots.

If the erroneous idea persists that goods will only be produced if there is a financial incentive for the ownership class, then a solution will not be found. The reality is that various studies have shown that while some are motivated by the accrual of wealth, humankind as a whole is not. Most human beings are quite happy to do the work that requires doing. In fact, most scientists and inventors have not been motivated by money. They have been motivated by finding a solution to a problem. Tesla, for instance, would not accept money for his invention of electricity. He wanted the world to have light free.

Millions jobless as a result of robots replacing workers

Solutions to Job Obsolescence

From the zeitgeist movement (Venus Project) to various interpretations of socialism, suggestions and ideas abound. The only reason that these solutions are not being contemplated and assessed academically by politicians and the rich is that they will be subject to a substantial drop in income and power. It helps them that they have indoctrinated the general public to believe that humanity needs their leadership, and that they won’t lead if they are not paid billions. This is called manipulation and blackmail. It's time to change the system otherwise we face some very bleak years in the next decade.

The Trades and 3D printing

Obviously if the professional jobs are replaced with ease, it goes without saying that the trades will vanish (and have vanished) into thin air. If you look at the photo of the Tesla factory, you will see that Tesla cars are made entirely by robots. Where once machine makers, assembly line workers, etc. were the norm, now car manufacturers have lines of robots working 24/7 365 days a year to produce cars.

Homes are being produced by 3D printers (China), intact with logic boards so that they can be attached to fiber optic cables, plumbing, and electricity. Trades will be even more severely hit than the professions.

The End of Capitalism - Peter Joseph

There will be no recovery as per the Industrial Revolution

Some who have not studied the situation believe that, as in the days of the Industrial Revolution, people will retrain, new jobs will be created, and the effects will be short lived. According to think tanks and scientists, this is not true. The situation is different for several reason.

1. The technology is advancing faster than people can learn the technology. By the time people learn the technology, the technology is outdated.

2. There were fewer than 700 million people on earth with growth doubling only two years later. Today we have 7.5 billion people with a billion people being added every 70 or 80 years. This means that more and more people need jobs at a faster and faster rate.

3. Ninety five percent of the population was rural which is the opposite to the situation today. When people were displaced, the escape to the New World. There was land in Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Today there is no free land for the taking.

4. It may have taken three or four years to learn a trade (or less), but at the end of it one had a job for life. That's because the technology wasn't outdating as soon as it was invented. Today, it takes between four and seven years to learn the very basics of robotics (and not everybody is capable of learning which is different to a trade). By the time geeks have learn the skills, the skills have become outdated.

5. Assembly lines produced far fewer products then than robots produce. Today we have over-production; in 1700 we didn't. Today a robot can produce sufficient products in a year to last the entire human race for ten years while in the Industrial Revolution, sufficient products could be produced for a small section of people in a shorter time.

So, no, there is not going to be any recovery similar to the one that took place as the aftermath of the industrial revolution. This time, a different economic system needs to cater to all people whether they work or not.

Do you believe that your job will disappear within the next ten years?

See results

A Failing Economy

We are approaching a situation where humanity is caught between a rock and a hard place. It is not possible for all the people of the world to be employed, and it is unrealistic to expect all people to be geniuses who invent new products so that they can be self-employed. Contrary to the idea that entrepreneurs possess skills for self-employment that workers do not, most of humanity were self-employed farmers, blacksmiths, cobblers, etc. for most of the past 10,000 years.

Something has to give, and what has to give is the excessive wealth of a few thousand people. There is no other way. When eighty four people own the wealth of half the planet and most people are living lives of quiet desperation because they are the victims of wage slavery, the situation is bad enough. When half the world’s people become unemployed through no fault of their own (the introduction of robots), the situation has toppled from barely endurable to one that lays the foundation for a very bloody revolution

Check to see if your job will be replaced by automation

Most people are oblivious to the fact that their job will be taken by a computer within a few short years. From sales people through to teachers, lawyers, the trades, the arts, etc., few will survive the disappearance of jobs. And while half wil
Most people are oblivious to the fact that their job will be taken by a computer within a few short years. From sales people through to teachers, lawyers, the trades, the arts, etc., few will survive the disappearance of jobs. And while half wil | Source

Would you be willing to give up some of your salary so that others might survive?

See results

A Better Method of Production and Distribution

All economic systems are systems of production and distribution. Some use currency while others don’t. An economic system does not need profit, however. It operates regardless of whether profit is made or not. A good example of this is Mondragon in Spain.

While capitalism has boasted that it is the best system there is, the sad reality is that it is a wasteful and inefficient system. At a time when the planet is vastly over-populated and natural resources are rapidly dwindling, over-production on the off-chance that someone might buy the product is madness.

We need to focus on a range of products which are small, highly functional, and beautiful. (The last one because everybody likes things that are nice to look at.) We also need to find a method of distribution that gets goods to where they are wanted and needed without relying on brainwashing (commercial propaganda – advertising).

Time for all of us to put on our thinking caps...


Submit a Comment
  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    5 years ago

    Aesta, one of the UK's major think tanks has just suggested that a Universal Wage (71 pounds a week) be paid to everybody (children included). They say it will cost about the same as the welfare system. :)

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 

    5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    You have hit the real issue we are facing today. Not the fear that the politicians generate in their debate. These should be the ones we should talk about. Planners in some countries are seriously looking into how to distribute wealth. Right now, this new economic system is taking shape.

  • Jay C OBrien profile image

    Jay C OBrien 

    5 years ago from Houston, TX USA

    Hello again TessSchlesinger. The idea is a person is still required to fix robots, they cannot fix themselves. Cars have become more electronic and are like robots. Modern cars can report errors, but cannot actually fix them. I tend to agree with RonElFran on this one.

    A Universal Wage? I agree the disparity between rich and poor is too great, but how did it get that way? How about taking money out of the system and having everyone (including CEOs) contribute their talent and receive food, clothing, shelter and medical care? Every era has its own economic system. We must find our way in it.

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    5 years ago

    Jay C OBrien, I'm confused as to why trade school will fix the problem. Trades are being replaced even faster than the professions. Did you take a detailed look at the photos and the links? Those are trades being replaced.

  • RonElFran profile image

    Ronald E Franklin 

    5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

    At present robotics technology is no more disruptive to our economic system than the displacements due to automation we've experienced for at least the last 400 years. Yes, the replacement of people by machines causes painful dislocations in every generation. But we adjust. And those adjustments cannot be foreseen. In other words, what looks insoluble today will be solved tomorrow in ways impossible for us to foresee. That's what history teaches, and I see nothing to indicate that robotic and artificial intelligence technologies are on the brink of changing that paradigm in the near future. I think our great-grandchildren will be at least as smart as we are. They'll figure it out.

  • Jay C OBrien profile image

    Jay C OBrien 

    5 years ago from Houston, TX USA

    Labor saving devices (robots) have been developed since civilization began. We are just getting better at it. Education is needed in the correct areas. I decided to go into Law Enforcement.

    An underlying problem is population. Only autocratic countries such as China can implement a "one child" policy and actually reduce overall demand. Other autocratic countries wish to expand their population to exert more control over other countries.

    Solution: trade school and a vasectomy.

  • Buildreps profile image


    5 years ago from Europe

    Great subject. I hope this Hub is read by many people.

    Robots will increasingly replace jobs that have repetitive elements in them. Many things can be automated and they will. It will lead inevitably to more poverty like you state. The rich will get richer and the poor poorer. The richest don't give one iota about the 99.999% people of this world. They really don't give a damn. They feed on them like parasites.

    This attitude will inevitably lead to mass unrest and polarisations, and possibly to a new great war, somewhere around 2020. But first the stock markets will make an awful crash in 2017. It's not so difficult to predict when you smarter than average. All the signs are there for people who have eyes to see. But unfortunately most people don't seem to see the inevitable.

    How many people are there who realise that they're digging their own grave by buying expensive gadgets from the big companies? What they’re actually doing is funding developments. It is really not so difficult to see.


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