No occupation immune to being taken by robots

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To the editor:
There was a news story on Marketplace Dec. 4, 2012 titled “The Robot in the Garden.” The author, Sarah Gardner, said the robot could “wipe out an entire category of agricultural labor.”
The robots would be doing very basic work, moving plants and trees around to different locations, depending on the season and business needs.

The next step would be to develop robots to prune, fertilize, pick and plant crops. The robots cost $30,000 each, and one nursery owner said that if a robot lasted a year and a half, it would be worth it.

The thing about machines is that they are never late, do not get sick, don’t call out from work, and don’t need vacation or other benefits. Once the initial cost is met, then the only cost is power and routine maintenance.
In another article from Marketplace, David Autor of the MIT economics department said a $1,000 robot could do many common household chores, clean, cook, drive the car, landscape, laundry – “but it would be devastating to people who do make a living doing these tasks.”
I have to agree, and I think that the number of jobs that are going to be lost due to robots will be very substantial. And I do not think any occupation will be immune, including education. Already, there are robots in Korea teaching English in school, and we are all familiar with online classes.
Jim Munroe

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