– What did the Luddites believe? They protested against manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labour practices. Luddites feared that the time spent learning the skills of their craft would go to waste, as machines would replace their role in the industry.
These past five years have forced many of us to accept what we cannot change and change what we can. So too are the economic engines of this planet. The corporate world has realized a few things too.
With the introduction of robotics in all areas of our marketplace, such as manufacturing, packaging, farming, mining, food service, transportation and more, there is less need for us, the working stiff. Uneducated or low-level educated-not needed. Robotics seems able to do what many of us can do, but also show the strengths of superior performance. Robots are not afraid of viruses, do not get sick, are always on time, and can be reprogrammed to function in multiple ways. We cannot – can we?
The Chinese re-education camps of old showed us that even with strict protocols and re-education -people often remain the same.
Corporations now know they can place most employees part-time, forcing billions to work multiple jobs at lower pay than a full-time employee. Full-time employees are required by law to receive benefits, a cost to an international conglomerate; so part-time it is for young and old. This is a futurist pattern.
The corporate world realizes they have some legal obligations for the safety, education and welfare of their employees. So how do they now alleviate this business difficulty?
Staffing organizations often owned by these large corporations manage employees, provide minimal benefits while charging big time for the services rendered. “Corporate Disassociation” is the name of this game, and it is becoming more prevalent even in governmental services. Public employee unions have been challenged time and again by management, asking if it has relevance at this time. An attack upon the employee, both personally and as a united group has started. Corporations now use international sources for low-cost employees, brought to our homeland to work and then go back to their homelands. No real benefits, used by staffing/management firms for annual service.
Our parents had the opportunity to live one life with often a few long term jobs. Profession was a term applied not just to engineers, Doctors and management but also to miners, tradespeople and food service personnel. This has changed. All our jobs have changed. The opportunity to work in a set profession no longer exists. Even railway workers, meat packers and grocery store employees must have many jobs. And now, automation and robotics will take many of these jobs away from us.
Automation and robotics are as long-lasting as their individual parts. They are serviceable, transformative and recyclable. The service industry in developed nations keep many of us employed. We are the product-customer of the future. We will be serviced by machines programmed to know what our needs and aspirations may be. Senior health care and home care within the developed world will introduce robotics in multiple ways. A human smile and a few words of encouragement will not be human but come from a machine. Does it make a difference? I think so.
There are over ten billion people on this planet, and many live in developing nations where a livelihood can simply be a means of survival. These people, often educated and not, will come to the developed world looking for what we have-a better world hopefully less stressful and easier to live. What a surprise they will find continual and new struggles for employment, housing, education and social acceptance.
Outside of our families and friends (those precious to us), we are nothing more than sand pebbles in a huge beach of humanity, important to few, used by many and perhaps replaceable.
Are we going to become victims to the machines of the future, Luddites who need to stand our ground and fight for ourselves, our fellow workers and our communities. Corporations use us much like a game, creating employment in one place and dismissing an entire population or community by closing a plant or place of business elsewhere.
Will the unionists of this world stand up for the little guy, the worker, and become Luddites with a difference?
The Luddites were a secret organization of textile workers in 18th century Britain who destroyed modernizing machinery that took their jobs. We need to be smarter, quicker and more determined in our opposition to the outright mechanization of our society. “What about us” should be the cry. We all need to be employed, having the opportunity to be part of the building of our society and protecting our families futures.
When Grandma or Grandpa open their eyes in the morning and hear a welcoming word, will it be a voice of a lovely caring nurse or a metallic machine. Empathy coming from a person means a great deal more than from a programmed device. The touch of a person on your arm welcoming.
Corporations care about one thing, and one thing only – maximizing their profits. To them, robotics and automation are tools to achieve this goal. Do we let this pass us by, or do we challenge this march towards futuristic replacement…alternative robotics.