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Another Profound Reason Why Robots and AI Won't Take Most Jobs

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  • Folks,

    I thought I would take a short break from "Soldering 101"..........

    When power weaving looms swept England and the New England states in the early 1800s, many predicted a tremendous loss of jobs. Certainly many hand weavers did lose their jobs, causing a temporary labor disruption; however, the overall effect was positive. Before power looms, cloth was so expensive that most people had only a few articles of clothing. By the end of the 19thcentury, as the price of cloth plummeted, century most people had much larger wardrobes. Hence, on average, the standard of living increased dramatically for the vast majority of people .

    An even stronger story can be told about agriculture. In the 18th century, more than 50% of the population of the US were engaged in farming; today the number is less than 2%.

    Most of us will only buy just so many articles of clothing and we can only eat so much food, so automation did take away many of these jobs, but the advent of technology also created new industries and new jobs. These industries have no upper boundary as to how much demand there will be for their products. This point was brought out by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

    Consider our industry: electronics. In 1935, there was essentially only one product, the radio. By the 1950s, TVs came along, then portable radios, VCRs, digital cameras, PCs, DVDs, mobile phones, smart phones, etc. There is no limit to the products technology will create. Admittedly, robots and automation will fulfill many of the jobs that will be required to produce these products, but humans will always be needed to manage and repair these manufacturing servants. In addition, robots still cannot do many jobs that are simple for humans. Steven Pinker, in his new book, Enlightenment Now, points out that no AI robot can empty a dishwasher. Robots can do repetitive tasks that they are designed and programmed for; however, they perform poorly on many jobs that are easy for humans. In addition to not being able to empty a dishwasher, robots would be challenged to make a bed or assemble simple objects that are different.

    Our industry, electronics assembly, is not only critical to the manufacture of these technology products, but also to the robots and AI itself. So instead of being threatened, I see exciting times ahead!

    Cheers,

    Dr. Ron