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Mechaniszation: The use of Robots in the workplace

The world has seen many new inventions and machine invention was one of them. Starting from the era of industrial revolution to the technology revolution, many things were innovated. All the inventions were as a result of necessities and every invention has attracted its own proponents as well as opponents. The history of the robots or in other words mechanization started as far as 1930s, yet the first successful robot known as the robotic arm1 was invented in 1962 and since then the exploration of the robots continued till the current time. In this paper, the term ‘robot’ means a mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance according to the Cambridge dictionary (2008). This paper will address that despite the use of robots in the workplace has led to many necessary and useful things, its negative effects are clear and they cannot match the benefits. The use of robots in the work place has brought many benefits to our lives because they can do difficult, tedious and dangerous jobs as well as they do not need food or salary. However, they cause widespread unemployment in many areas and it costs a huge amount of money to build them The use of the robots in the workplace instead of human beings has resulted in prevalent unemployment. The rate of unemployment is very high in the globe and it will be worse if we continue producing machines that are capable to replace human beings in the workplace. Many people have lost their jobs for the last three decades. This shows that there is a clear correlation between how the machine production increased and how fast many jobs were lost during the last three decades. Ayesha and Parag Khanna(2012) stated that as result of robotic development

Robotic arm was founded by Joe Engelberger, who many people regard him as the “father of robotics because of his vital contribution of robotic development thousands of people become jobless. They stated as an example the U.S Postal service which will be forced to cut 35,000 jobs by 2015. This study shows only one company but what will be the total number of jobs which will be lost in the year of 2015 due to automation. This will be probably a very big number and it is really difficult to imagine. More desperately, it would be quite acceptable if one robotic machine will take the job of one person but since they are effective and capable of doing many tasks together one robot may take the job of approximately 5,000 workers. The world’s economy is crippled by many things and the invention of the robots will add strains to the problem. We are going through hard time where millions of people who graduated from universities are trying hard to find jobs. Most threatened graduates are lawyers, Astronauts and store clerks. The fast replacement of human beings in the workplace by machines will continue as Marshall Brain, the founder of How Stuff Works and author of Robotic Nation (2010), predicted. He said that by 2013 there will be 1.2 million industrial robots working worldwide — that’s one robot for every 5,000 people. This is one of the most severe effects on automation and the situation will become worse as the time passes unless we take serious measurements to stop the increasing use of the robots in the workplace.

Furthermore, huge amounts of money are spent on robotic industries aiming to meet the different requirements of the workplace. A large number of robots with different sizes and types are created to simplify work and perform specific tasks like car assembling and mining. Oklahoma Senator, Tom Coburn (2011) during an interview with ABC news stated that NSF projects on developing robots with the aid of US government is wasteful. He said that the foundation made a robot that can fold laundry which they spent on 1.5 million US dollars. The senator told the people to think before they buy and consider that it takes the robot around half an hour to fold one towel. This is a simple example showing how much amount of money US government spends on such non trivial issues. This money could be used for many other purposes. Currently, many people are suffering from extreme poverty caused by disasters like drought and wars. One third of US fighting strength will be composed of the robots according to US Department of Defense, 2006 in the year of 2015. This means the whole budget of money allocated for U.S military is $ 680 billion, one third of it goes to the hands of the robot industries. America is not the only country in the leading countries of the world which recklessly spent on automation but it is just an example. Other super powers also spent huge sums of money on robotic development instead they would help the countries which are suffering. Let alone the developing countries, but unemployment hits those who spent such money on robotics. For instance US, the money spent on employment is far much less than the one spent on robotics. I think now, it is the time to reconsider the amount of money we carelessly spent on the development of the robots. This money could be used to develop infrastructure, create job opportunities, and help places where people are suffering from poverty or any other useful means.

On the other hand, there are many people who argue that mechanization of robots has made easier for us many things which were impossible before their invention. It is their contention that robots do many tasks that human beings find difficult to do. These jobs include repetitive tasks like car assembling and dangerous jobs like mining. Michael Malisoff who was leading a team from Louisiana State University whose aim was to create a robot that can work in the place of humans in harmful places such as oil spills and mosquito-infested lagoons. He said instead of a human doing the dangerous work, we are developing the kind of robots that will operate in places which are likely to result catastrophes. He added that their motive is to keep the danger away from humans. This claim can be accepted to some extent, yet it is insufficient because it only mentions dangers that can be protected using robots and ignores the hazards that robotic machines themselves pose on the people who are working with the robots. Those people are just making the argument to encourage us to support the robotic development; however there were many cases where robots caused disastrous accidents. The robot is a powerful machine and it can ruin and damage everything around it if anything goes wrong. Such problems are likely to occur when the robots have malfunction and the supports claim that robots should work as far place as possible from humans. Nevertheless, this is hardly possible because most of the robots want human intervention to work and correctly follow instructions. Currently, robots are not enough to work along with human beings and the catastrophic accidents that happen every year are enough as illustrations. In Britain alone, the reported accidents caused by robots were almost eighty cases according to the Health and Safety Executive. Lastly, this point of view denies the fact that in the presence of the robots catastrophic accidents can be caused. Therefore, it is my contention, though robots protect humans by doing some potentially hazardous jobs, the chance that the robots can cause accidents as a result of human error or system malfunction is more fatal and dangerous than its help in doing such unsafe tasks.

Proponents of the robotic industrialization also debate that the robots are cheaper since they do not need food, salary or health insurance. It is beyond doubt that robots need less compared to human labour who wants from their employers to meet many of their needs. I agree with the above statements in terms of company expenses however this will save money for the company it will harm it in another way. Human labour keep the company competitive and they can adapt changes easily. They try to improve constantly or come up new changes which will help the employers unlike machines, which only follow a set of instructions. In addition to this, supporters do not also mention the fact that robots still need professionals and highly trained workers to control them. This means employers should pay well to the highly skilled workers. Apart from this, it is also expensive and very costly to replace some parts of the machine if there is a dysfunction.

In summary, the development of robotic machines has contributed a lot to our lives though it has many negative effects. They enabled us to overcome many challenges that we were facing before their introduction. They are suitable in doing jobs that are potentially risky for us to do. They can operate on long hour with difficult tasks. They can also help companies work less labour with less expenses such as health insurance since they require no food and salary. However, the fact that the use of robots in the workplace causes unemployment and cost millions of dollars when constructing, is incomparable to its benefits. Hence, world leaders, companies and the people should together think this threat posed by the use of the robots in the place of work and it is our duty to bring a solution. In my view, the only solution we have is to completely abandon their usage or at least reduce their usage to minimum and give our trust to human beings in whatever job. I think if we provide training for workers, they can handle even the most unsafe jobs.

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