From the New York Times:
Japan’s legions of robots, the world’s largest fleet of mechanized workers, are being idled as the country suffers its deepest recession in more than a generation as consumers worldwide cut spending on cars and gadgets. At a large Yaskawa Electric factory, where robots once churned out more robots, a lone robotic worker with steely arms twisted and turned, tests its motors for the day new orders return. Its immobile co-workers stood silent in rows, many with arms frozen in midair.
While I feel bad for the legions of people who’ve been put out of work as a result of the deathspiral recession, today, we lament the hardships of a different type of worker: The unemployed robot.
I sat down with a few notable robots in the work force to discuss the toll that this economy is taking on their circuits and transistors.
The Reformed Broker: Hey guys, thanks for joining me for the discussion. Was the recent robot idling mentioned in the Times totally out of the blue?
Rosie the Robot: I was totally shocked, Mister J. Forty years of service and one day Jane brings home a Roomba to replace me. Something about needing to make cutbacks in the family budget.
TRB: Sorry to hear that. It appears that Europe is having just as tough of a time as we are stateside, with the top 16 countries averaging about a 9.5% jobless rate. Canada clocks in at roughly 8.6%. Are you guys hearing about any opportunities elsewhere?
Bender: I was offered an assembly position for IKEA, but you need an advanced degree in Heegan Haägen to put that crap together!
C3PO: I am fluent in over six million forms of communication, but my master gave me specific instructions not to leave the area…Oh dear!
TRB: Are there any areas of the economy where a robot can find work?
Optimus Prime: I’d basically say to stay out of Detroit, the auto industry is so bad that some of my friends are embarrassed to be half-car these days.
Wall-E: Entertainment is supposed to be recession-proof, but someone needs to remind the suits in the C-Suite at Disney about that. Bonuses were scrapped and my sequel was put on hold.
RoboCop: Police aren’t safe, neither. I shudder to think about my brothers on the LAPD getting IOU’s instead of checks come payday.
TRB: What does a robot do to keep it’s head up these days?
Johnny 5: I guess we just try to remember that at least we’re alive! Sort of.