March 25, 2014

LIBERATION FROM LABOR:

The Shift From Low-Wage Worker to Robot Worker (ANDREW FLOWERS, 3/25/14, 538)

Based on a 2013 paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne of Oxford, occupations in the U.S. that pay at or near the minimum wage -- that's about one of every six workers in the U.S. -- are much more susceptible to "computerization," or as defined by the authors, "job automation by means of computer-controlled equipment." The researchers considered a time frame of 20 years, and they measured whether such jobs could be computerized, not whether these jobs will be computerized. The latter involves assumptions about economic feasibility and social acceptance that go beyond mere technology.

The minimum-wage occupations that Frey and Osborne think are most vulnerable include, not surprisingly, telemarketers, sales clerks and cashiers. But also included are occupations that employ a large share of the low-wage workforce, such as waiters and waitresses, food-preparation workers and cooks. If the computerization of these low-wage jobs becomes feasible, and if employers find it economical to invest in such labor-saving technology, there will be huge implications for the U.S. labor force.
Posted by at March 25, 2014 1:26 PM
  
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