Way back in 1960, in a year when only 2,000 were in use, computers and their capabilities were thoroughly discussed as perhaps an eventual tool to cut the work force. There is a fear out there today, and it concerns the work force and the change that has occurred. That fear involves the transformation from manual labor to the technology of computers and even robots to do the jobs that many thousands of laborers were doing in the past. Many CEOs and high business management of most companies certainly support improving productivity by new technologies that include the computerized brain of our friend the robot.
Locally, our GM plant in Lordstown has installed robots in the body shop, paint shop and most everywhere throughout the plant, plus an extensive computer system that simply improves productivity.
It is not the 1960s anymore, but many, many jobs have been lost due to these great technologies. Progress, so they say, marches on.
We used to think of robots as space monsters in movies and on TV. "Star Wars" got everyone thinking after seeing R2-D2 and C3-PO. How things have changed! They say that robots are doing things that we can't do or we don't want to do.
As we see the Christmas season fast approaching, I wonder if the great minds in our universe are planning and tinkering to exchange Santa Claus for a robot and robotic reindeer as well. It may be hard for them to go down chimneys and to eat those delicious cookies. Where there is a will, there always is a way.
A little bit of history proclaims that the word robot comes from the Czech word "robota" meaning drudgery or slave-like labor.
From Health and Medicine about robotics: "Robots are manmade machines intended to replicate human and animal behavior. Roboticists can combine these basic elements with other technological innovations to create some very complex robotic systems. There are plenty of robots doing manual work on factory assembly lines, but while those machines can manipulate objects, they do the same thing, along the same path every time. Other robots are designed to play soccer, or to drive vehicles without human input."
Shall we say that robots are here to help us rather than hinder us? After all, it is just a machine that imitates the appearance and actions of a highly intelligent human being.
We must wonder in the long run whether computers and robots will continue to lay off human-type employees, and will there be a chance that these new computer skills could be used in creating more jobs instead of eliminating them.
Perhaps there will be more need for well-trained skilled workers that were originally laid off due to technology. It would be great if those workers could come back in a different role and still be employed. Don't bet on it! As I said earlier, in 1960, there were only 2,000 computers in operation. It was heralded at that time as a tool to eventually cut the work force - which they did significantly.
We must all agree though that computers and even robots do a great job and are very efficient, and we must compete constantly.
But, please, try not to replace Santa.