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Robots will steal our jobs...Really?!

Just a week ago, I had a lengthy conversation with someone claiming robots will "steal our jobs", and to my surprise, the same arguments thrown at me then have been showing up here on the DP.

Time for a full-post rebuttal...

So the argument I'd like to refute goes something like this:

As Robots (could just as easily be "tools", "machines", "factories", "technology", "automation"...the premise is the same) get more advanced, human work won't be needed to produce goods and provide services. This means:

a) humans won't have any jobs
b) humans won't be able to afford any goods because they have no income

I'm going to start with debunking (b), because it's the easiest to understand and once it's debunked, the concerns from (a) are no longer concerns...

At the heart of (b) exists a paradigm that goes something like: work => income => buying stuff. The best way to bust up this paradigm is to ask three questions:

1. How many hours did you work last year to afford electricity?
2. How many hours did you work last year to afford food?
3. How many hours did you work last year to afford gravity?

I know exactly how many hours you spent on No. 3: ZERO, just like every other person on the planet. So what's different between gravity and electricity/food? The difference is your use of gravity doesn't require any other human work to create it or supply you. The same is true for daylight, air, sunsets, clouds, etc. And just like gravity, we all spend exactly zero hours of work to afford those things.

Now in this robot world in which robots can produce everything with no human work, everything becomes just like gravity, free in the literal sense. That's not a world in which we "can't afford anything"...it's a world in which we don't NEED to afford anything.

When you "buy" something, you're exchanging the productivity of your work for the productivity of someone else's. But if the things you want didn't require anyone else's productivity, you can just have it without exchanging your own productivity...because there's no one to exchange with...like gravity.

It basically boils down to a trivial statement: when work is no longer required (to create), work is no longer required (to have).

Now on to (a)...

If you define "jobs" something like "the work needed to sustain ourselves by producing goods and providing services", (a) is absolutely true...to which I say "GREAT! Where do I sign?"

Since work is not needed to "afford stuff" that requires no work to produce, getting rid of "jobs" frees up our time and efforts for other more enjoyable pursuits: creativity, art, exploration, entertainment...the pursuit of happiness.

Where people go wrong is to assume that if we don't need to work, there would be nothing to do...maybe sit around and eat grapes all day.

First off, we already have the technology to do that right now...and we don't because that type of life isn't enjoyable.

More importantly, that assumption stems from the premise that there is some limit to the ways in which we can use our skills and efforts to make the world better. I just don't buy that at all. I don't even think we've scratched the surface of the possibilities of ways we can make life better...on THIS earth. When I look up at night and consider the entire universe, it becomes clear that we haven't even scratched the first piece of dust off of the surface of possibilities.

Ironically, it's exactly the increase of technology that expands our ability to serve each other in new and creative ways. There was a time when basically everyone was born a farmer. Thanks to agriculture equipment "stealing" those jobs, people now have way more options of how they apply their skills and efforts. Again, the benefit not being the "work" created by technology, but the ever-increasing amount, variety, and quality of goods and services created by the work.

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The destination is not the journey

You are reasoning using equilibrated markets. Unfortunately it takes time for a market to find new equilibrium prices and government policies can slow price finding. The worker collects unemployment, artificially boosting the demand for robot goods, slowing the rate at which the prices of goods change. Enough time may pass that there is an election before the next job and the worker might vote for more economic transfers. Plus the only reason this robot technology is cheap because it is a spin off from the defense industry. Which means the technology is more mature in the defense industry. Which could either translate into reduced taxes and saving the taxpayer money or robot armies that follow unlawful orders.

Robot tech did not

come from the defense industry. Robot tech came from standard manufacturing in "pick and place" for assembly lines. Then migrated to welding/auto manufactures.

Most Robots ain't cheap. An average 6 axis welding bot- $120k
programmed and installed- $30k

There is not a lot of "robot automation" in the defense industry. Actually only the show facilities are heavy automation for defense.

Plantin the seeds for our Savior. In the End Jesus wins!

$160K is pretty damn cheap.

$160K is pretty damn cheap. After 3 years worth of a human welders wages, you have no legacy costs. Also, robots don't need to sleep for 8 hours. My plasma tv I bought in 2006 was $2800, and now a similar model goes for $700.

Industrial robotics R&D was military

It was probably funded by the military in its R&D phase.
Now we have second generation stuff like autonomous agent robotics. All that stuff comes out of the military.

They won't be giving us free stuff

I'm not sure I'm following the logic here, at least not in regard to our current economic and political system.

Why would the owners of robots give away the products their robots produce for free?

The only reason we pay nothing for gravity is because they haven't figured out how to own it and charge for it yet.

People own the land where food is grown and people own the power plants that produce electricity. These people charge us money for food and electricity. If these owners get rid of all the people working in the fields and in the power plants and replace them with robots, they are still going to charge us money for food and electricity.

In our current system, the owners of the means of production are a small clique of corporatist insiders who have first access to fiat money created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. These are the people who would end up owning robots that replace human labor.

Those who have access to fiat money--money that is printed out of thin air--have the ability to buy up all the land, all the factories and all the stores that sell everything. They buy up the means of production and distribution with legal tender created by printing presses, or simply created by a few keystrokes on a computer.

The Federal Reserve bankers have shown that they are willing to contract the money supply to bankrupt family farmers, small business owners, homeowners, workers, etc. They contract the money supply to bankrupt the common people so that their insiders can buy up the means of production for pennies on the dollar--dollars that since 1913 have been created out of nothing.

They charge us their own debt-based money for just about everything we need to live--food, shelter, and everything else. They charge us their own money for our right to exist. In our society, if we don't have their legal tender we are nothing--just bums sleeping on the streets, begging for scraps from those who serve the system.

If the Powers That Be can replace human workers with robots, then they can create wealth without human labor. They can create mansions, food, healthcare, entertainment, cars, private planes, weapons, robot security forces, surveillance systems, drone armies, and all the protection they need from the threat of crime or revolution from the indigent, hungry masses. With automated labor they could create luxury for themselves beyond imagination--all without the need to pay human beings.

If the current crop of people who have first access to money and credit could use robots to produce all food, electricity, homes, cars, computers, televisions, cell phones, etc., don't think for a second they will give any of these things away to the common people for free.

The people who create money out of thin air are elitists who obviously care more about the needs of their own--bankers, corporatists, media moguls, shareholders in the military industrial complex, world government enthusiasts--then they do about us Main Street business owners and wage earners.

There are no utopias on this planet because human nature is an imperfect an often brutal thing. The Founders knew that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's why they wrote the Constitution the way they did--with separation of powers and checks and balances. But we have lost sight of the reasons why they did this. The NSA chief blatantly lied in front of the world about violating the Fourth Amendment, and our media, legislators and justice department go along with it. But tell the truth about NSA violations of the Constitution and you better flee the country because our justice system will bring down the hammer on you. That's how far away we've drifted from American ideals. We are becoming what Orwell warned against.

In my opinion, the psychopath internationalist elites who are now in control of our country will do everything in their power to use robots and technology to control and oppress us--not give us free stuff.

The only solution I see is for the American people to rise up and drive out these internationalist control freaks and restore our constitutional government. We need fire and brimstone. We need to drive them out with a whip like Jesus Christ drove the money changers out of the temple. We need American leaders of strength and conviction.

These modern day money changers are weak little men but they have enormous egos, boundless ambition and absolute control over money that they create out of thin air. They are brazen and reckless but remain filled with fear of us because to them we are ignorant brutes. That's why they are incrementally constructing the police state that is forming around us in front of our eyes. That's why they are obsessed with distracting us with "terror" and bogeymen on the other side of the world.

We need to rise up and rein in the multinational corporatists, melt down their golden calf of world government, and pour it steaming and burning down their throats.

We need to reclaim our government from these internationalist moneylenders and put American citizens back in control of their own lives and communities, just like the Founders intended. We need to attack their lifeblood--usury and fractional reserve banking--and tear down the temple of their power, the Federal Reserve.

We need the American people to take control of the money supply and make it serve the interests of American commerce and free enterprise, and not the interests of international fractional reserve bankers and Wall Street speculators.

We are blessed to live in a wealthy land that is overflowing with abundance, but we are cursed with a monetary system designed to siphon off that wealth and concentrate it in the hands of small, usurious, international elite.

Right now these internationalist control freaks are using technology against us. We need to use technology against them to restore liberty and justice for all. We are the majority and we have millions of people with the brains and the brawn to defeat them. But we are unorganized and leaderless.

We need a revival of the American Spirit and a revolution against these internationalist debt-money imperialists before it is too late. We need American leaders like we had in 1776.

There is no robot utopia, at least not if we continue down the dystopian trajectory we are currently on.

Full disclosure. Yes, I've had a few drinks tonight and I've got a novel in the works about all of this.

"I ain't the dying type."

Reader, writer, soldier.

Brilliant, very concisely

Brilliant, very concisely put. I thought I was reading my own reply through the first paragraph. I think people think they are going to get free stuff because of the free stuff that gets handed out now. The welfare now is basically bribery to keep people at least fed, so they won't revolt. Once the robotic weapon systems are in place, a revolt would be welcomed to justify the release of the terminators.

That was pretty good.

That was pretty good.

Amen, Brother :-D

Make sure to tell us when your book is finished.

Fantastic Explanation!!!

We can fight off technophobes one argument at a time! When this liberty thing finally catches on and we have a moral compass again, I'll really looking forward to my spaceship 10 years later..

Great Article!


This is one of the best posts on DP I have read in a long time. Thank you for increasing my understanding.

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

Robots are fun

to program. I Use to own a company called Automation Products LLC.
It was an industrial automation wholesaler, systems integrator and services company.
If the author was serious about robots taking away jobs he is only 50% correct. Robots replace labor...unskilled labor. They also keep those company's in business. They have to hire skilled electrical engineers to keep those machines serviced/running. 97% of industrial and 65% of commercial companies in the U.S. today have some type of automation. Unless your a defense contractor. I will never understand the business decisions of defense contractors.

Plantin the seeds for our Savior. In the End Jesus wins!


Take a look at the video here:

Now tell me, how much did you pay for your last stick of deodorant? $3? $4? Ok, how did this deodorant become so inexpensive? Because the process to make it is automated.

Who's life would be enriched if all you had to do all day long at work was to put these deodorant bottles on a conveyor at a rate of 120 parts per minute? How long would anybody last in that position? I guarantee YOU don't want that job. I know I don't.

I design automation everyday. This is my job. There are 40 people in our facility designing, building, wiring, programming, etc. We don't "put people out of work", we take people away from the work that will hurt them in the short term, and physically cripple them in the long term. The companies we sell automation to hire people to maintain, operate, and change the machines to produce new products. That is a net increase in jobs. No one was taken out of the workforce because of this automation because the process to built this deodorant was conceived upfront to be automated! Not the other way around.


Why is it humans think they're either entitled to a job or require a job?

If you don't have to work. Ever. Then great! If you can get a robot to maintain your own little plot of land and grow your own food and so on and be self sufficient then do so.

If everything is done for you at no cost to you (not even with taxes) then great!

Who wants to work a menial task?! Why are humans so tricked into trying to "save" factory jobs? Remember jobs have changed over millions of years. Once you had to dig a hole with 20 men - now one machine can do it.

That's right. ONE MACHINE. (Albeit it is run by one human.)

Jobs have been taken from technology for a very long time. I don't fear it for the reasons above. Nothing scary about it. Those jobs end and new different types are created.

The concept is that if you want to create something you will have to make a business that will bring people or robots together and make your creation a reality because that creation is too big for you to do alone. Creative people are inventors. So there are jobs in that field.

When people realise they can't get factory jobs anymore they will have to wake up. They don't need a job and they have to create their own work or way of making money rather than relying on someone or something (like government) to supply them with a job.

If robots did come in that means they'd be cheaper to operate at a minimum wage = cheaper prices for products. They can't overcharge because there will be no demand for higher priced products if no one has any factory work.

There will always be other work created from that time period. i.e. Who fixes, cleans, maintains, orders, watches, police's those robots?

The idea that you need to have a job sickens me. You don't require a job - you want a job because you either A want to help someone create something or B you want to create something yourself.

If it's neither A or B why the fuck are you working for the person in something you don't want to do - chasing the dollar?

Robots have been working in factories for some time replacing workers for some time. When they eventually get better and cheaper - even the Chinese will lose their jobs... and when that happens.... well that's another wake up call.

Yes, Robots Will Steal "Our" Jobs

There's a lot said (that I do not disagree with necessarily) on the thread, but it seems everyone overlooked price controls, specifically the minimum wage law. When the minimum wage is increased, more jobs become automated since machines are not subjected to the minimum wage. Just my $0.02.

Unsuspecting, willing, blind, controllable herd
Pawns in a covert game conducted by hands we trust
Dominated, compliant and deceptable
Confident that we matter - we don't see that we're but dust.

-Meshuggah "Dancers To a Discordant System"

Stealing Our Lives

Maybe it's not robots and jobs, but bankers or other humans appropriating the resources and/or life's necessities and then charging for them making life a violent, filthy, h-ll-hole of shortage/scarcity like in the movie "Total Recall" (1990) when 'TPTB' stole control of the 'oxygen/air' to control the people until 'Arnold & Rachel' came to the rescue! Yeaaaah! :)

THAT'S what HAS happened - contaminated/restricted food supply, stolen 'fresh water' rights/control, usurpation of natural energy sources and the restriction of freedom and knowledge to use and/or distribute, restriction/control over movement/travel.

People don't want or need "jobs"; what they want and need is an "occupation":

a. An activity that serves as one's regular source of livelihood; a vocation.
b. An activity engaged in especially as a means of passing time; an avocation.

That's what the human 'robots' HAVE stolen. That is their pre/occupation....ruining it for the rest.

Oh, but what you are failing to remember...

according to a RANT by Alex Jones this week, is that TPTB don't want us arround at all... and as they slaughter us through unnecessary wars, police actions, division, lack of nutrition, etc. the world will become an automated Utopia FOR THEM. They want to walk among the stars in the future, not us.

Autos are already significantly made via robot today... I don't see the prices of autos falling to the floor any time soon.

Virtually every single piece of a car

And I mean EVERY one, has some sort of regulation or mandate attached to it. tens of thousands of pages of regulation govern and restrict innovation in personal transportation, forces homogenization among manufactures and adds thousands of dollars of mandatory costs to production.

If you see a product going stale and nothing replacing it, the safest bet you can make is that you've got a jackboot on the necks of people who want to take the next steps...

Read some jeffrey tucker books sometime to get some great examples of this - he's really awesome at pointing out the jaw-grinding annoyance of a million needle pricks of the state messing our daily lives up. Warning: it might drive you mad ;)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee. - Ludwig Von Mises.

I love Jeffery T.

And the Laissez Faire Book Club. Read his emails almost daily too. ;)

Your arguments are long term, politics and loans are short-term

Short-term: robot takes over production, man fired, government pays man unemployment. Exchange rate of human labor to product is devalued because unemployment insurance slows the time to find a new price equilibrium between production and labor.

There Will Always Be Job Security For Men of the Mind

So long as you acquire training/experience in a field of work that requires critical thinking, problem solving, and/or creativity you will be just fine. Computer science, scientific research, medicine, law, business-administration and engineering are all decent professions for the foreseeable future.

However, if your job primarily involves mindless repetition or manual labor, then your job will soon be replaced by some form of automation. Food preparation, dish-washing, finished-goods assembly, retail sales, construction, truck-driving, and farm-labor are examples of jobs that will soon become... quite rare.

Construction? LMAO! You have

Construction? LMAO! You have no clue what you are talking about. I would love to see the robot capable of crawling between two rebar mats less than four feet apart to thread a coil rod to connect concrete forms or laying that rebar out to begin with and tying it togethwr. Or even a robot capable of constructing a scaffold in a tight space....a robot capable of building a roof wall twenty feet off the ground or any of a dozen other relatively simple tasks done by conscruction workers every day, much less the more complex ones. Robots have only ever been good at simple repetitive tasks in a controlled enviroment.(such as a factory) I simply dont ever see them replacing the jack of all trades ability that humans posses. What use is a construction worker who is only able to do one task and cant adapt on a moments notice? Not much....I am sure robots are equally impractical in other fields....not to mention the initial outlay of money for robotics is price prohibitive....especially for small companies. Each robot would take years at best to pay for itself....human labor will always have a place in any job where the tasks change.

My first thought about the

My first thought about the title: We are a long way off from this happening.

Anyway, nice summing things up there. I can only hope that the world attains kinda a paradise state like that at some point.
On the topic of people "needing" to work(for money basically) because they need a sense of self worth or what have you, I say that is wrong.(I have seen this mentioned a couple times lately in regards to this sort of thing which is why I am mentioning it here)
I am currently without a job right now. The only reason this depresses me at all is because it means I am not getting money with which I can use to buy stuff to have a comfortable life; amassing wealth so that later in life, things are a bit easier. What do I do besides looking for a job? I sure as hell dont sit around like a depressed lump all day! I find stuff to do!
More recently, I friggin programmed an alarm for my backdoor! I am looking into setting up a keypad locking/unlocking mechinism from scratch because I can! Before this,(and still) I make 3d models for fun for a team project.(for a game)
I would gladly carry out little projects like this with no care at all if I didnt have to worry about the fact that our world runs on money.

Anyway, aside from that almost offtopic stuff, there was mention of something in anotehr thread. Someone mentioned that all George Jetson does for his job is push a button for a couple hours a day and it feeds his family. Well indeed, new jobs will be created, even if its just pushing a button or people will create stuff to do.

Kinda ranted on there a bit, oh well.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

Cyril's picture

^^^ BUMP !



Related : Bastiat's That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen - On Machinery :


"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

I have no idea who you are but it's an outstanding post you made

I have no idea who you are, but it's an outstanding post you made, IMO.

Thank you for this.

Not only you have destroyed the marxist argument on work being the only source of derived value **, but also after it, the as much absurd keynesian one in regard to insulting progress brought if only by technology alone - cf. Paul FRAUD Krugman, for whoever feels morbidly curious enough.

** (nevermind the supply/demand natural laws of free markets, kept out of centralized human control, nevermind the incentives and mutual benefits of both sides when engaged in voluntary, free-of-constraints exchanges, nevermind that "capitalists vs. labor" is only an abstract, fallacious antagonism only meant to push the prerequisite, fraudulent idea of "class division" to be regulated by the state's Supermen - aka wanna-be tyrants, etc)

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

1 up.

And now... consider the post-singularity form/ type of government in such a society...

No easy task...

Look at the textile industry

Look at the textile industry of the later 1800s. Machines did far more work than humans in creating textiles....if the idea that automation steals jobs is true human labor in the textile field should have dropped significantly. What really happened is that there were more than TWENTY times the workers in the textile industry after automation than there were before. What happened is that more workers were required to build parta for the machines...more workers to maintain them...more workers to run them...but fewer workers to do the actual work. All introducing automation did was SHIFT the work done by humans...and the greater volume of goods made possible by machines made a large boost for the entire textile industry...driving prices lower for the consumer and profits greater for the producer. The standard of living for the entire country ans even the world was RAISED by the introduction of automation and employment was INCREASED due to greater volume. The same holds true for ANY automation. Union employees have this thought process that there is only a limited amount of work to be done...which is simply not true.(I use union workers as an example because I see this attitude every day because I am a union worker...sometimes, I am sure this holds true for others as well). The whole argument comes from a basic misunderstanding of economics. According to that logic there should be no automation at all. Instead of using a skill saw to cut a 2x4 we should use a handsaw. It provides a human more work right? What this would really do is increase costs for the employer to the point that he would run his business at a loss. Again...this holds true for using ANY human labor when automation is available to do the same job for less. The WORST case scenario is it shifts the type of job available...which simply means the worker needs to be retrained to do the new task....a task they would better understand anyway than a new worker since they used to have a personal hand in the end product.

Made me think about a choice...

To be an Employer or an Employee.

This may not be on topic....but made me think about the mental box some create for themselves. Not knowing how their skills can be applied to something outside that mental box and generate an income.

Perpetual motion of Creativity and Motivation is like a teeter totter.

If corporations are,

If corporations are, "people," then so are robots...because the corporations own them.

How to survive in the 21st Century?

What can you do better than a robot?

Quality of production matters most, and robots will never compare to the human hand.

It's like comparing Michelangelo to a mass produced Chia Pet.

Never be afraid to ask simple questions.

You can't just say that.

(regarding the quality of production)

I work in manufacturing engineering, and sometimes a robot can indeed do better and more consistent work cheaper than a human welder, for instance. However- a robot can only do as much as it is programmed to do, thus far. Custom fabrication still requires manual welding.

That all said, for those bread and butter seams, robots make no mistakes. They are damn good at what they do.

Robots don't steal, sex harass, need heat, jawjack, smoke weed,

...get other workers sick, punch other workers time cards, need a human resources director, and another person to handle their taxes, paperwork, regulations and pension. Robots don't stand around talking to other workers, start an identical business across the street, sell your secrets, start a union or go postal.

I've supervised hundreds of workers for 39 years. Any machine or system that replaces a worker making $50,000 per year is worth a million bucks.

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ