As the world grapples with the remnants of an economy that has been devastated by a global pandemic, there are plenty of pieces that must be picked up and rearranged. While the global economy had never truly recovered from the crisis of 2008, there had been a lot of movements made to secure the global economy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused all beneficial remedies to be halted if not destroyed. This entails that there are many people all around the world that have been furloughed, let go, and left with the heavy question of what they will do to provide for themselves and their loved ones. This question has not been made any easier to deal with given the rise of machine automation in a multitude of labor sectors.
The topic of automation has been discussed in depth for many years now; however, it has become ever more prevalent following the pandemic. Many companies have argued that it is more beneficial for them to pay for technology that is conducive to labor instead of hiring humans that request a wage that surpasses the cost of automation. This has left many people jobless and completely incapacitated in their search for a stable lifestyle.
According to Insider, between 30%-70% of Americans have been displaced due to automation in their sector. Although this number may seem vague, it argues that essentially most of middle-class America has been displaced due to machine advances. While this facet highlights what it is like for Americans, this number is a genuine representative of how it is for most middle class citizens around the world. More and more “common-labor” workers are being let go and replaced by machines that not only complete their work at a fraction of the cost, but do so with minimum error and at a rapid pace.
It is no surprise that companies are desiring to pursue this route in order to ensure faster delivery and more accurate outcomes for their customers. Yet, there is a moral argument that must be made. Do we continue to seek a more “successful” business model? Or should companies acknowledge that ethical responsibility they have to their workers?
This question is one that has been made for the past decade, but no one seems to acknowledge it in depth. There are plenty of arguments that state that automation opens doors for workers to be paid higher for jobs that machines will never be able to do. Nonetheless, this argument negates the fact that humans will forever be judged on their level of education and experience. Therefore if a human applicant without a university degree or years of experience is competing against a machine, the machine will always win.
As the world continues to recover and readjust to life post-pandemic, it is more than likely that more middle-class global citizens will be displaced by automation. And while many companies argue that they will seek to always employ humans, the current trend in the labor market suggests that many more people will be devastated by unemployment in the years, if not months, to come.
Will companies begin to question their ethical duty or will the cogs of capitalism continue to rampage through middle-class society?