MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Are Robots and AI Really Going to Displace All Workers? Probably Not

Posted by M. C. on November 7, 2022

https://mises.org/wire/are-robots-and-ai-really-going-displace-all-workers-probably-not

Robert Blumen

Among the components of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset are a drastically reduced population and the replacement of human labor with robots and artificial intelligence (AI). The question immediately comes to mind: can robots and AI really make all the stuff for the elites after they have gotten rid of the people?

Because a plan has been formulated and described does not mean that it is possible to realize. The plan may contradict laws of logic or reality, or assume the existence of resources that do not exist.

Podcaster and journalist James Delingpole, speaking to investigative journalist Whitney Webb on October 23, 2021, discussed this topic with his guest. I have transcribed several minutes from their conversation, edited for concision:

Webb: The fourth industrial revolution. One of the main pillars of that is automation and artificial intelligence. We’ve already seen that with corporate behemoths, like Amazon’s efforts to replace human workers with robots. Starbucks is piloting their AI barista with plans to have at least one in most if not all locations…. How long until humans are gone entirely? That’s in a retail setting.

In the UK Tesco recently joined the cashier less checkout. It’s all done on your phone. You scan when you enter the store. Everything is tied to you, your unique digital identifier with the corporation. You can just walk out of the store. How convenient that you didn’t have to walk by a cashier at all.

We’re going to see this happen in big ways in manufacturing. Chile is one of the biggest producers of copper in the world. In the northern part of Chile, the economy is driven by mining…. They are automating the mining here [in Chile]. Most of Chile’s middle class in the north work in the mining industry. They are about to all be cut out….

It’s infinitely more profitable for a corporation to make an initial investment in a robot or an AI algorithm than to continuously pay a worker. Not have to deal with sick pay. There are efforts all over the world to demand better worker benefits. Better hours. Robots are the ultimate worker for a lot of these people because they are not interested in the human equation of things. There is a move to a human-free future coupled with anti-human rhetoric.

The substitution of machines for human labor is a process that has been going on since the first industrial revolution. A considerable amount of manufacturing is already done by robots. But does it matter if a machine is a robot or not? Telecommunications switches connect calls that used to be done by telephone operators. We do not identify these machines as robots (perhaps because they do not have a recognizable torso and limbs or perhaps because they perform their work on data rather than physical objects) but the impact on the demand for labor to perform those tasks is the same.

Contrary to Webb, it is not “infinitely more profitable” for a corporation to use an AI-powered robot in place of a person. Profitability is a calculation that depends on the price of the robot, the productivity of the robot, the wages of the person and the productivity of the human worker.

The substitution of capital for labor makes economic sense when the cost of the capital goods per unit value of output—including paying for the entire supply chain—is less than the wages of the person that is replaced.

Yes, workers are paid wages. However, robots and other machines are themselves not free goods. They must be designed, tested, and maintained. They are made of many parts which must be manufactured and transported. The manufacturing process is performed by some combination of people and other machines. The parts are ultimately made from materials that are mostly mined or extracted from the earth, also by men and machines.

See the rest here

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