It seems like almost everyday, there are new concerns and warnings about the coming reality of replacing workers with Artificial Intelligence (AI) coupled with robotics.
Now, the latest news comes in a joint report from the consulting firm Deloitte and experts at Oxford University that suggests that 35% of the workforce will be replaced in just 20 years. This is a less aggressive prediction than last year's estimate of a 30% replacement -- including white collar jobs -- by 2025.
But, supporting those predictions are real life stories that prove we are -- right now -- on the path of high unemployment due to robotics. In China, the electronics contractor Foxconn Technology Group just announced the replacement of 60,000 factory workers with robots. At the same time, the former CEO of McDonald's, Ed Rensi, pointed to this year's National Restaurant Show and the number of working robots on display as a forewarning of the future of the restaurant industry; especially fast food. As he noted, it is cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm to bag fries than to pay someone $15/hour to do the same. By the way, the annualized salary at $15/hour is $31,000; meaning a ROI (Return on Investment) in just a little over a year. Even less, if the cost of providing health insurance is added in.
This is just further proof that those pushing a $15 minimum wage are, in fact, pushing the minimum wage worker right off a cliff. And, once again, the unions are the ones doing the pushing. In fact, unions have done more to decrease their own membership in the last 50 years; down from 35% of the workforce in 1964 to just 10% today. Fast food workers should make note of that fact when union workers are picketing outside their workplace for a $15 minimum wage.
Foxconn replaces '60,000 factory workers with robots': http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36376966
Building robot McDonald's staff 'cheaper' than hiring workers on minimum wage: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/building-robot-mcdonalds-staff-cheaper-8044106
Experts predict robots will take over 30% of our jobs by 2025 — and white-collar jobs aren't immune: http://www.businessinsider.com/experts-predict-that-one-third-of-jobs-will-be-replaced-by-robots-2015-5
Union, not workers, behind push for $15 wage: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20160417/OPINION03/160419427
The incredible decline of American unions, in one animated map: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/24/the-incredible-decline-of-american-unions-in-one-animated-map/