Robots Will Create ‘Permanently Unemployable Underclass’

Robots Will Create ‘Permanently Unemployable Underclass’ (International Business Times, Aug 7, 2014):

The advancement of robots that can do our jobs for us will create a class-divide not seen since the 19thcentury, a report by the Pew Research Centre in America has found.

As machines have continued to displace factory workers, personal assistants and receptionists over the last decade, advanced countries must adapt their education systems to turn average students into exceptional ones who can outperform a robot, sociologists told Pew.

“The jobs that robots will leave for humans will be those that require thought and knowledge,” Howard Rheingold, an internet sociologist, told think tank Pew.

“Education systems in the US and much of the rest of the world are still sitting students in rows and columns, teaching them to keep quiet and memorise what is told to them, preparing for life in a 20th century factory.”

The report is based on interviews with 2,551 professionals, including journalists, CEOs and university professors, to ask whether a world in which robots do our menial tasks for us will be one filled with ‘utopian leisure’ or one we should fear.

Roughly half of respondents thought that although machines will displace many more jobs in the coming decade, this will lead to a ‘golden age’ in which the meaning of ‘work’ is redefined as people find themselves with much more free time.

For example: “How unhappy are you that your dishwasher has replaced washing dishes by hand, your washing machine has displaced washing clothes by hand or your vacuum cleaner has replaced hand cleaning?” asks Hal Varian, chief economist at Google in response to Pew’s investigation.

But the other half voiced concerns that once jobs disappear, new ones will not surface to take their place, particularly for unskilled workers which, some say, could result in a future of widespread unemployment, deep inequality and violent uprisings.

“We’re going to have to come to grips with a long-term unemployment crisis and the fact that – strictly from an economic point of view, not a moral point of view – there are more ‘surplus humans’,” said Karl Fogel, a partner at Open Tech Strategies.

If the education system does not produce more technologically savvy and creative high achievers as the norm, then the rise of robot workers is “certain to lead to an increase in income inequality, a continued hollowing out of the middle class, and even riots, social unrest, and/or the creation of a permanent, unemployable ‘underclass’,” the Pew Research Centre report concludes.

2 thoughts on “Robots Will Create ‘Permanently Unemployable Underclass’”

  1. No, they won’t, because we won’t be alive any longer.
    The Pacific is nearly dead, the giant sea creatures are in our San Francisco bay, the Whales and dolphins are diseased, and a third of their normal weight. They are starving to death, Fukushima has killed all the sea life they fed upon.
    We have innumerable creatures surfacing and beaching on our once beautiful beaches. Some are prehistoric in appearance, fish with teeth…….horrible. As more sea life beaches to die, the vulture creatures won’t touch them….they can smell the difference. No services are available to safely remove them, we have to keep the wars going… they rot on the beaches, and the stench and poisons from their bodies will make the entire area unbearable.
    There is no way to save the Pacific now, and the foul Japanese corporation continues to pour plutonium and other radioactive poisons into the Pacific every day. Not a word from any world leaders…….they say nothing.
    In a matter of months, people will be dying on the west coast. It is a dreadful way to die, people cook from the inside out. So, there will be a sharp rise in suicides by the intelligent, the rest will die in the streets.
    I have never seen such mindlessness as I see today. News has become propaganda. Nobody will face the mass genocide we have before us.
    I don’t understand. The Pacific provides us with much of our oxygen (80% of all our oxygen comes from oceans), the sea life provided much food and livelihood for all.
    Those poor creatures. Had I been leader, I would have approached other nations about moving the dolphins and whales to oceans still living………but, oh no, let them die.
    The mindlessness is unbearable.
    The denial is beyond sick.
    This article has a good premise, except that day will never come, we will all be extinct……
    Nuclear radiation lasts for hundreds of thousands of years. All of our life forms will be destroyed, by our own folly.


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