Public Concern

The fast development of robotics has raised public concern about robots replacing workers not only on factory floors but also in offices, and causing a global unemployment crisis. To an extent, people’s concern seems justified.

Robots in Large Numbers

For example, Apple Inc’s largest original equipment manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group has started using robots in large numbers, resulting in many workers losing their jobs.

SwissCognitive LogoAn equally fearsome threat is the wide application of artificial intelligence, because it can render many professionals, including financial analysts, jobless. Japan-based Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Company, for instance, laid off 30 percent of its employees in the claims settlement department in January, as those posts were to be taken over by machines with artificial intelligence.

The other major concern is that the already large number of jobless people around the world will increase further, worsening the already skewed wealth distribution. More money will flow into the wallets of capitalists, and common people’s incomes will drop remarkably, because the value of their labor and skills will dwindle, and the widening income gap, if unchecked, will cause serious social problems around the globe.

Some countries have already realized this problem, and taken some countermeasures to address it. The European Parliament recently held a vote on a proposed bill on the use of robots in industrial, healthcare, entertainment and some other sectors. The bill will entitle governments to levy tax on the use of robots in these sectors, and the tax so collected would be spent on training jobless people so that they could be employed. Although the bill has not been passed because of opposition, it reflects the changing social reality.

The opponents to the bill think the robot tax will have a negative impact on enterprises’ innovation capacity and job market competition. Which raises a valid question: How to strike a balance between job […]

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