Horses were an important part of the workforce for hundreds of years, until they were quickly replaced by machines. Their value was no match for cars and tractors. Will this pattern repeat with humans and robots?
An article on The Economist describes the similarities between horses losing their jobs to tractors and cars, and humans losing their jobs to robots: http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21719761-probably-not-humans-have-lot-learn-equine-experience-will-robots
What happened when horses lost their jobs to cars and tractors
- It took about 50 years to almost totally remove horses from industry.
- Some jobs for horses still exist, but only for the strongest/fastest, and in very niche areas
- Most horses did not find other jobs, and ended up as glue as their value diminished. The market value of horses dropped around 80%.
What humans can learn from horses losing their jobs to cars and tractors
- People will need to find a way to stay valuable. This is not going to be easy. As robots get more agile, light and strong, our physical attributes will fall to the wayside. We cannot count on our abilities being better than a robot.
- Robots will (and are) reducing the wage of humans like how horse prices fell in an attempt to stay competitive. Keep an eye on wages compared to inflation, prepare for earning less. This study has found that one robot per thousand workers leading to a wage decline of between 0.25 % and 0.5 %.
- There will not be enough jobs to go around. A solution may be a basic minimum wage for those without work, but will the majority of people be happy just sitting around with very little disposable income?
- The population of horses dropped significantly – because it was controlled by humans. Perhaps governments will attempt to reduce populations by introducing a 1 (or 2) child policy like China. Not a great outcome.
- Unlike horses, we have a voice. We can use tools at our disposal to spread a message that we are not happy with the direction set by a few large corporations. If you haven’t already, show your support on the Ban The Bots homepage.