June 29, 2013

RISE OF THE MACHINES: Job-Stealing Robots Go Global.

Asian workers have scored some victories in rising wages, but many are learning something the West has known for some time: Employers will seek out the cheapest labor on offer, and machines are even cheaper than an underpaid human. In the late 20th century, manufacturing jobs shifted from America to China, then from China to Southeast Asia, and now even those are being automated.

For America, at least, this trend shouldn’t be so disconcerting. After all, it’s developed economies like ours that are designing the robots Nike is now using. Low-wage manufacturing jobs are drying up, but they’re being replaced by jobs in building, operating, and repairing the tech in question. Increasingly, companies will be likely to “onshore” these jobs to America, when shipping and distribution becomes much easier and cheaper. Manufacturing, it seems, will come full circle.

Indeed. I, for one, welcome our new robot employees.