Throughout history, automation has had an enormous effect on the workforce, allowing fewer workers to do more, increasing efficiency. Robots were first used in the transportation equipment, chemical, and metal industries, leading to an increase in both total factory productivity and wages. The use of robots also increased labor productivity and value added from labor; in other words, each human worker was more productive and added more value to the economy than before the implementation of industrial robots. These gains in productivity and efficiency are huge economic drivers for automation. With basic automation of software development and testing coming into being even now, it is likely that very few industries will be unaffected.
Historically, when industries go through large jumps in efficiency, we see an immediate drop in employment, or short term job loss. However, it is controversial whether this leads to a long-term decrease in employment. While changes in the workforce have caused many changes in politics and industry, the world has managed to keep on turning.
My question is two-fold:
Will automation really cause a decrease in overall employment, or will new industries created enough jobs to balance it out (with the remaining workers finding work in other fields)?
If there is a decrease in employment, will we see (Leftist? Utopian? Realistic?) solutions like shorter workdays and basic income? What would push corporations and governments to implement these solutions?
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