Robotics and Automation: Should we be conservative to protect jobs?

Robotics and Automation: Should we be conservative to protect jobs?

by Dr. Rokon Zaman

There has been a concept, called: Constructive destruction, known as Schumpeter's gale. Smart companies destroy their existing products to create space for their more innovative ones. Does it work in the job market? To respond to robotics, should we protect or kill jobs has been a burning question to many of us. By killing jobs, if we cannot find any new job, it might be stupidity. But, if we can create better jobs by killing existing one, answer could be different.

China is turning Robotics and Automation, broadly coined as Fourth Industrial Revolution, into blessing. ‪China is desperately taking the advantage from low cost ‪robots to kill 100 million manufacturing ‪jobs as fast as it can do to slow down the migration of factories to African and South Asian countries. ‪China’s robotic strategy to kill manufacturing jobs to slow down out migration of factories is fuelling the growth of domestic robotics R&D and production. Such capability is crucial for China to create new high paying jobs to innovate robots for elderly care--to handle the liability of one child policy.

As opposed to ‪China's aggressive move to kill manufacturing jobs with ‪Robots, India's frugal ‪innovation and conservative approach to Robotics and automation to protect jobs raises question. Will it contribute to widening the competitiveness gap between ‪India and China?

Introduction of ‪robots into manufacturing not only kill ‪jobs, but also lower the rate of growth of industrial wages. By focusing on labor-intensive jobs, are developing countries deliberately staying on the slow track to suffer from income erosion?

To take the advantage of low cost sensors, actuators and software, should every country of the world, irrespective of development stage, focus on developing domestic ‪Robotic R&D and production capability? Will such strategy contribute to both job and income growth, even in least developed countries? In absence of such strategy, will all developing countries, even supplier of least costly labor, end up in loosing existing manufacturing jobs—suffering from premature deindustrialization?

Posted by Rokon Zaman at Techpolicyviews on Blogspot

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