I walked into a local grocery store the other day and realized it had been completely reorganized and remodeled. The biggest change was the checkout stations. There used to be about six checkout stations manned with people — now there are only two “manned” stations and the rest were replaced with computers.
Replacing people with machines and technology to do work has been going on for quite some time in manufacturing, science, technology, military, and customer service, at gas stations, toll booths, airports, and retailers (including on-line purchasing). Indeed, these machines are more efficient and less expensive than people, but I have to ask the question — if our population keeps growing or stabilizes at the current level and if our education system doesn’t pick up the pace, how we will keep employment up?
Alternatively, could we in fact use machines to do a large percentage of the work for us? If machines can do most of the work what could we do with more spare time?
The big question is — does economics serve the human being or does the human being serve economics? Why can’t we find jobs for people? Why aren’t companies hiring? Why are companies laying people off? Why do we have under-employment?
If we indeed serve economics, then we better start ramping up the “quality” of education or we are going to experience huge unemployment and social unrest – and we know where that leads.
I like those computer-based checkouts. I’ve had them in my grocery for years, and use them about 90% of the time. I also favor computerization, for the very simple reason that someone needs to program them.
What’s interesting is that we have other jobs where people are not training for them, and they cannot be replaced easily. There is a lot of talk, lately, about the lack of plumbers and other service workers. These are the positions that are manual labor, sometimes messy, and are likely to pay better than high-skilled jobs in the near future.
One of the shows I enjoy watching is “Dirty Jobs”. These are generally the jobs that are not easily replaced by computers/machines, yet need to be done.
Hello WingedPanther…the point isn’t whether or not one likes to use these computerized checkouts…I use them too if it saves me time standing in line…unless I am buying some beer or wine in which case you have to deal with an I.D. check….the point is larger than that. But…maybe you have the answer…we can all be plumbers:) No machine is going to want that job…LOL
It does occur to me that this could be the beginnings of your goal of a world without money. If people are not necessary for labor, then there’s no reason to pay people, and no need for money.
Did you take that “Self-Check Out” photo? I’d like to “Self Check Into” what is under that NW hippie girl’s jean skirt, especially with those boots she’s wearing. I’d like to do a “dirty job” on that, 🙂
RAOTFLMAO….no…it was stolen off the web like most my photos:) If I took that picture I would have proceeded immediately to the checkout computer right in front and I would have been sniffing the air and throwing her a few looksies…
If all jobs are replaced with computers our lives could be turned into the ‘Jetsons’. Where all George Jetson does is sit around and push buttons. The rest of us could sit around and blog all day.
LOL…maybe I could play more golf…take some long hikes and pursue photography…spend more time with my son…and yes…blog away:)
I’d also note that the computerized checkouts remove one more opportunity for the customers to interact with actual human beings during our day-to-day lives. For some folks there are few enough such opportunities already.
Indeed…even worse…if you live in a decent sized city…contemplate how often you actually bump into someone you actually know.
Economics was invented by humans but we have absolutely no control over it. When people try to control it you get countries like North Korea where there’s little infrastructure and people are lucky to get a handful of rice a day. When you don’t control it you get countries like the US where the corporations become so shady and cut-throat in their pursuit of money that they’ve practically destroyed the financial sectors.