Age of ro­bot­ics is draw­ing near

The Fresno Bee - - Opinion -

Ad­vance­ments in ro­bot­ics and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence are oc­cur­ring at an ex­po­nen­tial pace, lead­ing to a fu­ture where man­ual la­bor and ser­vice-sec­tor jobs will in­evitably be­come au­to­mated. The im­pact of glob­al­iza­tion, in com­bi­na­tion with the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal pres­sure for rais­ing the min­i­mum wage, will con­vince more busi­nesses to re­place hu­man work­ers with ro­bots and al­go­rithms that do not need manda­tory work breaks, health ben­e­fits or sick days.

While some Fres­nans are un­der­stand­ably grate­ful for Ama­zon’s new ware­house in south­west Fresno, these jobs aren’t per­ma­nent and won’t sus­tain the city for what is com­ing ahead. Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, high-tech em­ploy­ment cur­rently con­sti­tutes around only 0.5 per­cent of Fresno’s la­bor mar­ket. This should be an alarm­ing statis­tic for our fu­ture, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing Cit­i­group’s 2015 re­port found that 53.8 per­cent of cur­rent jobs in Fresno are re­place­able by au­to­ma­tion.

The in­com­ing wave of au­to­ma­tion presents Fresno with the op­tions to ei­ther trans­form our­selves or watch our econ­omy be­com­ing dec­i­mated by the in­ex­orable gears of progress. There­fore, lo­cal busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion, and gov­ern­ment lead­ers must start en­gag­ing in a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion to assess the strengths and needs of all stake­hold­ers to chart a fu­ture course where no Fres­nans are left be­hind.

– Khoi Quach, Fresno

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