Automation: The Exaggerated Threat of Robots

It will take quite a lot of time before robots become cheaper than workers in emerging markets such as Africa, argues Nico Beckert of Flassbeck Economics, a consortium of researchers who aim to provide economics insights with a more realistic basis. From the post: All industrialized countries used low-cost labour to build industries and manufacture mass-produced goods. Today, labour is relatively inexpensive in Africa, and a similar industrialization process might take off accordingly. Some worry that industrial robots will block this development path. The reason is that robots are most useful when doing routine tasks — precisely the kind of work that is typical of labour-intensive mass production. At the moment, however, robots are much too expensive to replace thousands upon thousands of workers in labour-intensive industries, most of which are in the very early stages of the industrialization process. Robots are currently best used in technologically more demanding fields like the automobile or electronics industry. Even a rapid drop in robot prices would not lead to the replacement of workers by robots in the short term in Africa where countries lag far behind in terms of fast internet and other information and communications technologies. They also lack well-trained IT experts. Other problems include an unreliable power supply, high energy costs and high financing costs for new technologies. For these reasons, it would be difficult and expensive to integrate robots and other digital technologies into African production lines.

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Source: Slashdot – Automation: The Exaggerated Threat of Robots

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