Saturday, August 1, 2015

It's The Technology, Stupid

A fella by the name of James Carville coined the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid".  As the chief political strategist for Bill Clinton, he used that phrase to defeat George H. W. Bush in the 1992 presidential campaign.  The unemployment rate that year was 7.5 percent and Mr. Carville made sure the Clinton campaign remained focused on that fact..."the economy, stupid".

Now, what if I told you that 20 years from now the unemployment rate will be ten times higher than in 1992.  That's right, 75% of the people in this country will be unemployed and it won't be the fault of the economy.

The most profound result of the technology revolution will be that, someday, almost all our jobs will be replaced by robots.  And don't look now because...SOMEDAY IS HERE!

There's a factory in Dongguan, China that makes parts for smartphones.  Recently the entire plant has been automated with robots and of the 650 people originally employed, only 60 remain.  They "maintain" the robots that do virtually all the work from machining parts to assembly line work to in-plant transport and warehouse management.  And the plant manager says that eventually there will be as few as 20 employees left to run the operation that originally required 650.

But that's not the interesting part of this story.

The robots produce almost three times as many pieces as were produced before.  Production per person (60) has increased from 8,000 pieces to 21,000 pieces.  That's a 162.5% increase. And the increased production rate has not hurt quality.  In fact, quality has improved.  Before the robots, the product defect rate was 25%, now it is below 5%.

A little food for thought.  The robots don't get tired or call in sick.  They can work 24 hours a day and seven days a week.  They don't get paid so they don't need overtime compensation or raises or medical benefits or vacation time or maternity leave.       

So, if you get into a future discussion with someone about how hard it is to find a good paying full-time job and they say, "It's the economy, stupid"'s not.          

It's the technology, stupid.

Inspired by "TechRepublic"

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