This blog is not meant to preach about the evils of technology, nor do I necessarily think technology is evil. Hey, I love my computer, but there is a point where we have to say enough with technology that seeks to put people out of work. One could argue that there’s always a job, but given our progress technologically in such a short time, it’s fair to say that we could easily replace most every person with a robot or machine in the near future. Does our ability to do this make it ok? Is there a point where we have to say it is better for a fellow human being to reap the rewards of that jobs, both spiritually and financially, rather than have a robot do it? It seems to me that the idea of a robotic work force would make many CEO’s tingle with joy. No salaries, no health benefits, no retirement, no breaks, etc.
Just like is mentioned in The Heritage Foundation’s report on low-skill jobs it seems some people actually believe that automation is the best thing for our country financially. While many people are tauting the benefits of locally grown fruits and vegetables others seem to think that automating the process of picking said fruits and vegetables to be more beneficial to us. Finally, others are using this as a platform to preach against “illegal” or guest worker immigration. (see anti-Hispanic)
The process involves sending a mechanized scanning unit into orchards and orange groves. Equipped with digital-imaging technology, it creates a three-dimensional map displaying the location, ripeness and quality of fruit. A robotic picker then follows the maps, using its long mechanical arms to carefully pluck the ripe produce.
I sure hope there’s no wind when they set out to pick the fruit.
This study doesn’t even factor in that the smaller farms will not be able to afford this type of equipment. Just from the technology he needed, so many years ago, my great-grandfather was driven into deep debt by all the loans he had to take out for equipment. So basically, this type of automation simply benefits those massive farms that can afford such things which are probably the ones spraying everything with pesticides.
A set of scanning and harvesting units will likely cost about $500,000 when the equipment reaches market, Morikawa said.
Though, in some facets of our life automation by robots is critical, automation is not a good application to remove the need for every skill-set. This is reminiscent of the move in Flint, Michigan where many workers were replaced by machines and to celebrate the job losses GM opened an indoor amusement park with a robotronic display showing humans and robots working together. This automation didn’t seem to help GM and it certainly didn’t help the thousands laid off.
Currently they’re trying to take jobs from cashiers and even train conductors for the MTA, in New York. Have you ever tried to use the self checkout kiosks at a Home Depot? Well you’re lucky if the thing works at all. I say you should always use the human checkout. If that person didn’t need a job to support themselves they wouldn’t be there. Supporting the robotic automation of everything is particularly disturbing. Doesn’t everybody complain about computers working properly anyway? I seem to remember a video where a large man uses his keyboard as a baseball bat.
As long as their is a demand for cheap food and clothing we will always have an issue with underpaid labor. When any of us, including the anti-immigrants, go to our local dollar store or go to Walmart or any other discount store, we are supporting slave labor in other countries and sometimes even in this one. So instead of paying more for the goods, and to the worker, their solution is to automate everybody out of work. Why not just hook us all up to the Matrix already. Ruth at Illegal Protest states regarding the farmers hiring “illegal” immigrants:
Consider this when we hear the agriculture industry crying that they need illegal alien labor or “guest worker” labor to pick their fruit or harvest their vegetables. This will be coming up soon with Senate debate on the AgJobs bill which seeks to increase the number of guest workers we have already. The real story is – the growers want CHEAP labor. They don’t have a labor shortage. They have a shortage of CHEAP labor so they can compete with other countries which use their own indigenous slave labor.
The truth here, though, is that it is us who want the cheap labor because we want cheap goods. Even though people on Ruth’s side like to demonize everyone while never taking blame themselves, they are indeed part of the problem. Have they ever bought the cheaper item when there was a choice? Have they ever looked at the label or the good they were buying or investigated its origins? How many people actually do this? We set the price because we buy the cheapest item. If the going rate for a computer is $1k and a company releases one for $200 which everybody chooses instead of the $1k model, then the company making the $1k computer can either go out of business or follow the same labor and manufacturing practices of the cheaper company. This is exactly how we’ve driven the prices down, for many items, while also reducing the price paid to workers. America is currently a disposable society. If something doesn’t work, who cares, it was cheap anyway. Throw it away and get another one.
Ruth over at Illegal Protest, who inspired me to write this post, does exhibit at least some “main stream” American traits. She bashes cheap foreign labor while basking in its benefits. In a previous post I link to a picture in which she is sitting in front of a Dell laptop computer. Even though Dell is an Austin, TX based company 95% of all their laptops are built in China; therefore she benefited from cheap Chinese labor. Dell has some really good deals on computers. How are they so competitive?
If you think about it technology is actually driving much of the outsourcing of American jobs. The fact that you can instantly communicate across the globe has driven many call centers to be placed in India. The quickness that goods can be moved around the world means many factories have also moved overseas. Technology is the reason why you can’t speak to a human being when you call any major company for help. Who likes that? There has to be a reasonable limit where we say that a human is better suited for the job and we should simply pay a fair wage to get it done.