Bloomberg Businessweek’s Sam Grobart argues that automation of jobs usually held by humans is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be acrimonious:
Yet the robot revolution doesn’t have to cause panic. While robots can claim some technological superiority over humans, even the most sophisticated machines have limitations. Automation will inevitably displace jobs, but it’s already bringing fresh economic opportunities as well. The last two decades have shown how technology can create industries even as it turns whole cities into has-beens. The ratio of jobs created to jobs eliminated by robots and where all the newfound wealth ultimately winds up are entirely dependent on how workers, businesses, and policymakers prepare for this new era.
Even so, Grobart says humans still don’t have too much to fear just yet:
Humans continue to have another advantage over robots: They remain a more flexible workforce. To handle this year’s holiday shopping season, Amazon.com (AMZN) hired 50,000 part-time workers. While seasonal, part-time labor is not something you can necessarily build an economy on, it’s worth noting that Amazon didn’t buy more robots, because you can’t hire a robot part-time (yet). What would additional robots do when demand receded? “Come January,” says Jim Tompkins, a supply-chain consultant, “all that automation’s going to be staring you in the face.”