Viewpoint: AI and Automation Advances Upend Old Models of Economic Development
By Alexander Trauth-Goik
Around the world and within every industry, machines are disrupting occupational structures and bringing into question the nature of human labour at an alarming rate. Previous limitations surrounding robotics and automation have been overcome, with investment into such technologies on an exponential upward trajectory.
Changying Precision Technology Company in China focuses on the production of mobile phones and increasingly uses automated production lines. A few years ago the factory was run by 650 employees, but now just 60 people are required to complete the job, with robot co-workers responsible for the rest.
In 2015 Nike completed pilot testing on automated stitching, reducing production on a typical size run of its iconic Air Force 1 shoe from over 500 components across multiple factories to just a single machine and operator.
Elsewhere, automated harvesting equipment is revolutionising traditional agricultural practices, reducing the need for labour-intensive tasks normally performed by dozens of farm-workers.
Whether one should be optimistic or not about these emergent trends, one thing is clear; there is no getting off the train of technological progress anytime soon. Regardless of which side of the debate one is on, within current debates over AI and automation two injustices are repeatedly committed by both parties.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill.