To the editor:
That was a cute political cartoon you ran several days ago with the 1950’s style robot telling a man he was laid off from his job. Trouble is, this sort of message only plays on fears with a feeble attempt at sick humor. The reality is far different.
It is true that robots and automation can do and are doing tasks that humans might be able to do. But there are good reasons not to fear.
Go into any modern manufacturing plant and you will see robots doing work that is unsafe for humans. They perform work that is tedious, repetitive, prone to repetitive stress issues. They remove humans from dangerous work environments.
Automation performs tedious and monotonous work like number crunching, reading data into the system, sending data where it needs to go. This frees humans for work best performed by humans — thinking, creativity, problem-solving.
What about humans? The work is changing. Humans need to develop technical skills to design, build, implement, repair, and use all this technology. Skilled people are in demand right now, in this area, and cannot be found. Most people don’t need a four-year degree to obtain good work. Maybe to become a better citizen or to be a more fully developed person. But there are, and will be, jobs.
The writer is an internationally known analyst and writer on manufacturing technology and strategies.