Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Automation versus labour
Fast-food workers in the USA have taken highly visible action to demand higher wages. Interestingly, one commentator indicated that automation may be a possible outcome to deal with the perceived labour-based threat. Can machines and robots replace these workers? The warnings of machines replacing workers in the past have been highly exaggerated. Some jobs were lost but many more were created. Tractors, for instance, boosted agricultural productivity and created new jobs; a win-win situation.
Factory automation is a somewhat different narrative. Productivity and quality were improved but in certain sectors like assembly lines, workers were replaced. This was compensated for by increases in workers in other areas to support the new technologies. Overall there would have been a net loss in the specific sector itself but it would have been offset by higher wages as higher education and skills were required.
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