Mr Mark Carney, our venerable head honcho of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, has just said we may loose 15 million jobs to robots. In the same week as Amazon announce a pilot till free store in Seattle.
You may think pretty frightening stuff . Indeed , it could be, as he reinforced the importance to retraining in order for the working population to cope with this change.
Well yes, sort of . But haven’t we been there before in the 18th century with the spinning jenny, oh and electricity in the nineteenth century, followed by a few other job killers, like telephones, cars, jet planes, bar code scanners, supermarkets and computers. Complete red herring but do you know who first used a computer in their business, apparently Lyons Corner house cafes in the early 1950’s .
Now don’t get me wrong some of these modern marvels did create lost jobs but they also created a bucket load more.Mr Mark did not specify a timeline, much of what was talked about was based on research that 5 million would go worldwide by 2020. Hence it is a bit of a struggle to see where the extrapolation came from.
If we are to be inundated with robots nicking our jobs, leaving us all queuing up at the job centre, it may not last too long as we would have no money to spend, so nobody would buy anything and nobody would sell anything . Consequently, GDP would plummet , society would go bankrupt, the robots would go on the scrap heap as no organisation would have the financial resources to invest in their up keep, plus what would the robot do? Then we would go back to square one. Which is what sort of happens in a more ‘micro’ fashion anyway. For example, supermarkets where deemed evil from an employment viewpoint, in the early sixties. This was exacerbated with scanning in the early seventies. Yet the supermarket chains are one of the biggest employers in the U.K. The entire retail market accounts for nearly 16% of the UK’s workforce .
For me, the point here is what is the point of making such spurious remarks , which border on scaremongering, when it is really nothing new in terms of future adaptation. It is a bit rich when coming from the banking sectors no.1 man, where cash machines, telephone banking, internet banking, contactless payment, branch closures have all lead to job losses over the last 25 years. Has the banking sector actually created any jobs in the last 10 years?
Perhaps he is intimating that robots could be only be employed on a points system ? Strangely, where it would first seem that his and Amazon’s announcements were one of the same , the later is rather more positive. It would at least eliminate the most stressful part of everyone’s shopping experience, the stress of queuing to pay .
I suggest we have concerns for the coming years but a robot invasion is probably the least of them.