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:

  1. 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)?

  2. 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?

Sources and Further Reading:





  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Hello, and welcome to the site. I'm afraid your question is out of scope of WB SE for two reasons. First, this topic is very controvertial and most answers are bound to be opinion based. Second, the topic is incredibly broad as well, as you are asking us to extrapolate on a trend that is not really well understood. For further information about the scope of this site, read up on our Risk Factors $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM I was scared it might be. Thank you for the quick response. Do you have any advice as to where to post this question? I chose to ask here because WB.SE seemed like the community that would have a good range of well thought out, well structured answers. $\endgroup$
    – Dent7777
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Here is an example of a similar question that has a narrower focus. As your question stands it's more or less a "what happens?" I would suggest finding a specific area you are interested in and focus the question there. $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, welcome to the site. I don't mean to discourage you; this is an interesting topic. We just like to keep our users informed of our expectations. Feel free to consult the help pages or join the chat if you have questions. $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Jul 13, 2016 at 17:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The best way to go about asking questions here is to present solid facts regarding your world (unemployment rates, some made up statistics, maybe political trends and facts), then give us your best bet as to what might happen, and ask for feedback. Or maybe tell us what you want to accomplish / what outcome you desire, and ask for advice based on the situation as you have set it up. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 13, 2016 at 18:24


Browse other questions tagged .