Rise of the Robots

Original digital musos Kraftwerk are in London this week and, as if to mark their powers of foresight, here comes news the US has added no net manufacturing jobs since the summer, even though manufacturing output growth is picking up pace. Just as Kraftwek warned us, the rise of the robots has created production without people.

And this is not just a developed country phenomena, but is affecting China too where innovations include a restaraunt manned by robots. The result. Mid-ranking and mid-paying jobs stranded between the creative class and the service class are disappearing fast. One in four US workers has dipped into retirement income to meet current spending. The median income has fallen 9% since Obama came in.

Could traditional middle class jobs in education and healthcare be next? This is interesting, as both are areas where I have suggested we need to increase output, but where we are currently unable to do so because ‘low’ productivity means businesses can’t make a profit, at the same time as State sector provision is constrained by public finances. So could using IT to carry out some of the functions of GPs and classroom teachers could be about to dramatically change that opportunity for profit?

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