A simple task, like making a coffee, is currently performed by robots in some cafes in South Korea.
Consequently, the belief has been generated that technology, or robots , take jobs away from people, increasing unemployment and generating a battle of humans against robots.
The production of goods and services involves the use of instruments , called factors of production, to transform raw materials into goods and services that can be offered in markets for consumption.
Among these productive factors we can highlight the most relevant:
- Machinery and equipment used in production (capital).
- The job.
In the period prior to the Industrial Revolution , the tasks carried out to produce goods and services were labor-intensive. For example, tasks related to harvests or agricultural production. However, with the passage of time, and mainly due to the appearance of new technologies, certain tasks and jobs replaced the use of labor with capital, that is, with machines.
labor for capital
The process of replacement began during the Industrial Revolution with the invention of the steam engine and other devices such as the use of lathes to perform tasks previously performed by skilled craftsmen.
Although the process of replacing labor with machinery for production began in the 18th century, it is currently constant and has undergone a particular intensification in the last thirty years.
The growth in the intensity of the appearance of new technologies, although it has made it possible to increase the productivity of economies, that is, to produce more goods and services in less time or with better quality, has also caused a greater substitution of workers for machines. .
A simple task, like making a coffee, is currently performed by robots in some cafes in South Korea. Consequently, the belief has been generated that technology, or robots , take jobs away from people, increasing unemployment and generating a battle of humans against robots.
Still, technological innovations cannot replace humans in all productive tasks, relegating the human vs. robot battle to fiction rather than reality.
This is because there are different types of tasks in the production of goods and services, and not all of them can be automated:
- Routine manuals: repetitive tasks, which require the use of physical force and are also associated with finger dexterity and the manipulation of small objects.
- Non-routine manual: Like routine manual tasks, they require the use of physical force but are not tasks that are constantly repeated.
- Routine cognitive: repetitive tasks that require the use of thought, such as telesales jobs.
- Non-routine cognitive: these types of tasks require abstract thinking, the ability to solve problems critically, and communication skills. In addition, these tasks are not repetitive.
Based on this classification of tasks, it can be said that the tasks that are automated, or with the greatest risk of this happening, are routine tasks, both cognitive and manual, as they are repetitive tasks that can be performed by a machine or robot. without major inconvenience.
Non-routine tasks are less likely to be performed by a robot. Non-routine manual tasks are characterized by being influenced by aspects that machines or robots cannot replicate; for example, cultural aspects. On the other hand, non-routine cognitive tasks are the least automatable tasks of all, since critical thinking and communication skills cannot be partially or totally replicated by a machine.
beat the machine
The solution for humans to win the battle against robots lies in workers being employed in tasks with low risk of automation. Now, for this two things must be given:
- In order to carry out this type of tasks, technical preparation, study and learning of the tasks to be carried out are necessary to carry out said tasks ( learning by doing ). Therefore, education (formal and informal) must take a leading role, allowing people to take on tasks that have a low risk of automation.
- Jobs must be generated for the production of goods and services that do not require non-routine tasks. Based on the latter, knowledge-based services, which use high technology intensively and need skilled workers to take advantage of technological innovations, emerge as a solution to this problem.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the substitution of human labor for that of machines or robots began. However, we still have time to win the battle, focusing on training and instruction, as well as on the generation of jobs in services that use technological innovations as a complement.
Juan Manuel Rodriguez Repeti , Researcher and professor, University of Buenos Aires
This article was originally published on The Conversation . Read the original .