Robotization of retail stores: are we ready for such innovations?
People are already used to see robots at factories. Even automated plants cannot surprise anybody. Nowadays special software is very popular in tourist business and retail sales. It takes place in the United States and European countries.
Researchers emphasize that high technologies are not evil at all. They allow many professions to make it safer, easier and more productive. This process affects already medium and even small production due to the creation of new, cheaper robots. They are capable of performing a wide range of tasks. The same is about the spheres of state administration and the provision of various services. And it’s not only about robots. Software develops, electronics get cheaper. The storage facilities are available for large volumes of data. A lot of routine tasks are getting automated now. This has already led to the disappearance of many jobs in the US customer service and postal service. In some cases the program communicates with another program, as a result, new digital processes are created. All this is the reason for the growth of labor productivity without increasing the number of jobs (employment). And supporters of this point of view warn that the development and implementation of elements of artificial intelligence can affect even those jobs that today seem to us only the prerogative of people.
Positive and negative sides
Some experts believe that with the automation of different workplaces, new ones will appear.
Aaron Edsinger from Redwood Robotics took a compromise position in this matter. The company develops robotic manipulators. He positions robots not as a substitute for man, but as an extra tool for people workers. He says, their products make the work of employees more efficient. And it leads to an increase in the productivity of enterprises.
Mick Mountz is the founder of Kiva Systems. He believes that his products do not deprive people of work. They are for large companies that are developing so quickly that they do not have time to hire employees. Besides, this allows fast-growing companies to survive by reducing overhead costs.
By the way, others suspect that because of the high pace of technology development. The destruction of jobs is faster than the emergence of new ones. They believe that this is one of the reasons for the stagnation in the US economy and the widening gap in income of different layers of the population. And this, in their opinion, is also taking place in other developed countries.
They also believe that this all has led to an intensive creation of jobs from the end of the Second World War until the beginning of the 2000s. For the last 10 years, there has been stagnation in employment, with a continuing increase in productivity. Researchers are sure that the reason for this is high-tech progress. Their opponents are also not unfounded. The research showed that employment in Brazil, South Korea, Germany, China and the US increased. It happened, despite the growth in the use of industrial robots. That took place in 2011.
Supporters of automation refer to the historical experience of previous technological revolutions. They are sure that the economic effect from the introduction of technological innovations is positive. It is in spite of the loss of jobs by some employees. As an example, the statistics are: about 100 years ago, about 70% of workers in the US were busy in agriculture, today only 2%. The reason for this is the introduction of tractors. Another example: after the war period, about 30% of workers in the US worked in production. At the present moment, the number is about 10%. It is associated with the automation of enterprises.
Such logical relationships usually look very convincing and self-evident. Rodney Brooks is the founder of Rethink Robotics. He believes that autonomous robots will revitalize and strengthen the economy. The same way as computers did 30 years ago.
So what is the reason?
Economists point out several explanations for the gaps between productivity, employment, and median income. The example is the financial crisis and the decline in the volume of international trade. It is more likely that this is the result of a whole complex of events and trends. That is not only technological progress. In other words, no one knows exactly why the growth of employment has stopped. Anyway many disagree with the view that the reason is in the robotization of work processes.
Automation has affected a lot of professions. The representatives of them before belonged to the middle class. As a result, there has happened a polarization in the labor market. It is for highly-qualified and low-skilled occupations (with the appropriate payment). So the middle class turned out to be “depleted”. Historical experience suggests that this is a temporary phenomenon, a transitional period.
Indeed, the lowest in payment jobs are more effective and more profitable to “trust” people. So the best-paid professions are not possible for robots and computers yet. Whatever anyone may say, automation improves the economy in many aspects.
The advantage of a man in front of machines is obvious for the flexibility and universality.