Never Fear, The Machines Are Here!

By Mason Mohon | USA

A study by Paul McClure, a Ph.D. candidate at the Baylor University department of sociology, did research into the connection between robots and anxiety, particularly about losing your job. In the study he conducted, 37 percent of participants fit the definition of a technophobe, which is someone who fears robots. These people that meet the definition fear that they could be displaced in the workplace by a system of automation. What the study did not explore, though, is whether or not these views were well founded.

The fear that technology will take over jobs is by no means a recent one. This concern, as a matter of fact, dates as a substantial one all the way back to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. In the first chapter of his book, he discusses how the increased efficiency of pin-making machines was causing unemployment in the pin making industry. The book was published in 1776, and the industrial revolution was merely in its infancy. The following years resulted in widespread rioting due to this unemployment, that had to be subdued. Riots of English stocking knitters would even sometimes reach into the thousands.

Since the beginning of time, humans have been using technology to make their lives easier and more efficient. People claim to fear technology because they think they will steal jobs. People fear that machines decrease the demand for labor, yet if this were true, the end goal of an individual stating this opinion would have to follow it to the logical end of believing the best labor system is one that works at the least efficiency, so as to employ more people.

The reason people use automated production instead of human production is that they see that the utilization of this automation will be more efficient, resulting in more money to the producer. But now we are left with a laid-off worker and a producer with more money. How is this in any way acceptable? It is acceptable because the manufacturer spends the money in other parts of the economy that he would have devoted to an inefficient means of production, The money is used somewhere else to create an equal amount of jobs, and the producer is producing more efficiently.

At face value, it looks like a helpless worker is laid off a factory owner gets off rich, but we must look further than the direct effects and see that an equal amount of employment is produced in the end.

Now, we must look even further. It can be seen that some machines ultimately create more jobs. The world population is increasing and has increased drastically over the last 200 years. We would not be able to employ all of these new people without the advancement of technology. Take the internet as an example. A plethora of jobs would not exist today if it were not for this new technology.

The central takeaway from this article should be that machines are helping in the long run. We should not look at merely the immediate effects, and instead, look at the benefits it is causing on a grand scale. There is no need to fear, for the machines are here.