The Tragedy of Robot Unemployment

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 robotRosie 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  Bender:  I was offered an assembly position for IKEA, but you need an advanced degree in Heegan Haägen to put that crap together!

c-3po  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?

optimusprime    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  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  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  Johnny 5:  I guess we just try to remember that at least we’re alive!  Sort of.


In Japan, Machines Are Idle (NYT)

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