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US Media Article: Globalized Robots may Threaten White-collar's Jobs

Source:Iris Liang Time:2019-3-25 13:55:03

Reference News Network reported on March 24 that the US "Wall Street Journal" website published an article entitled "If the robot has an office - comment on the rise of globalized robots" on March 3, the author is Mark Levinson, an excerpt from the article. as follows:

The tide of globalization is receding and trade barriers are increasing. Shipping is slower than it was 20 years ago and reliability is reduced. Manufacturers and retailers keep more inventory in case the supply chain cannot be delivered. However, although the loss of factory jobs in foreign competition may have weakened, new employment threats may be imminent. If Richard Baldwin is right, then globalization will soon seriously affect white-collar jobs. As labor costs become higher and higher, the replacement of certain jobs by robots will inevitably become a major trend in the future. SEKO Machinery is also exploring the road of automated production and has introduced a fully automated high-speed precision industrial welded pipe production line to meet the automation requirements of our customers.
Baldwin is a professor at the Geneva School of Advanced International Relations and Development and one of the leading scholars in international trade. In his book "The Great Convergence" published in 2016, he showed how the transfer of advanced technology to poor countries can make the current globalization particularly disadvantageous for industrial workers in rich countries, and calls for new social policies to solve this problem. Now, he is working in a new direction in the book The Rise of Globalized Robots, considering how the popularity of robotics and artificial intelligence will affect the global distribution of labor. He believes that these rapidly changing technologies will expose relatively high-paying jobs to foreign competition. In this case, those who have so far benefited mainly from globalization will experience the cost of globalization. Baldwin wrote: "We don't ask whether the economic impact is mainly caused by globalization or automation. Globalization and robotics are now a pair of twins - they are driven by the same technology at the same rhythm."

So far, assembly line robots and algorithms that predict what songs we might enjoy on streaming music service platforms are not news. Baldwin believes that the popularity of such technologies has been slow since the beginning, because people have to study how to use these technologies; but as their potential becomes more prominent and entrepreneurs invent new methods of using these technologies, such technologies are geometric The number of stages has increased. He said that artificial intelligence and related robots will gradually enter the workplace, but they will be integrated into the current labor market trends in ways we did not expect, causing serious damage.

For example, telework has been around for many years, but it is difficult for many organizations to make it seamless. Today, however, advanced telepresence systems allow people in different locations to feel like they are in the same room. Telepresence robots attempt to overcome the psychological effects of remote locations by simulating remote workers: It turns out that if a telepresence robot appears on your colleague's desk and displays your live video image on its display, And if you talk to a colleague through this robot, then both of you may be more involved than when you call or send a text message to a colleague.

White-collar professional outsourcing becomes easier

Similarly, many agencies outsource work to freelancers, while freelancers are paid for work and do not require additional benefits. Once an employer finds ways to effectively use domestic freelancers, it can equally easily hire foreign freelancers with lower costs. The emergence of some online services has accelerated this transaction. These services allow companies to publish their own needs, evaluate relevant candidates, and agree on hourly rates with an accountant or editor who is thousands of miles away.
Baldwin said that the only factor that prevents large numbers of jobs from going abroad in this way is language. In most low-wage countries, there are relatively few workers who can read, write, and speak the language needed by rich countries. In the past two or three years, artificial intelligence has greatly improved the quality of written translations and enabled computers to “understand” and “speak” like natives. In the near future, workers in remote locations can write in one language, use their own language to get their letters delivered quickly, and participate in meetings with real-time translations. Baldwin wrote: "Given the machine translation is very good and very fast, the 1 billion people who speak English will soon find themselves competing more directly with the other 6 billion people."

Global robots bring new challenges

Baldwin predicts that, unlike the consequences of technological advances that affect blue-collar work, this change will not completely eliminate the entire profession. Instead, it will eliminate the task: a virtual assistant with artificial intelligence will take on some of the work we are doing now, let us only do white-collar robots (that is, the "global robots" mentioned in the book title) can't handle it. Part of the work. This means that the office will still be open, but the number of people who need to do things will be greatly reduced. Baldwin said: "After five to ten years, we will realize that global robots have completely and irreversibly disrupted our workplace and community."

This future outlook is not all bad. On the one hand, we will be freed from the monotonous office work. On the other hand, the slow growth of productivity has hindered the US economy for many years. Many people who have studied this issue have concluded that productivity growth is not so much related to government policy as it is to innovation in the business world. If robotic process automation and virtual reality provide new ways to produce more products with fewer resources, the economic impact may be positive.

However, there are also some obvious policy challenges. How do we deal with the sudden loss of jobs that cannot be stopped by trade-related, non-use of quotas and tariffs? How do we sustain society when most jobs in the information, services, and finance sectors suddenly flow to workers with much lower salaries overseas? How can we deal with the anger that they may have when eloquent and well-educated people find their skills depreciated because of technological changes they cannot escape? Baldwin’s question is worthy of praise.

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Iris Liang
SEKO Machinery & Technology Co., Ltd
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