Columns » Hightower

Robots in the workforce




A message from our corporate-governmental-media establishment: Your future is on Mars.

They're referring to "Curiosity," NASA's lovable robot that's now probing and analyzing the Red Planet with human-like dexterity and abilities. Meanwhile, back on Earth, 128 similarly sophisticated robots are making electric shavers for Philips Electronics — work that would take 10 times that many humans.

A New York Times article marveled that the robot's arms "work with yoga-like flexibility — well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human." Plus, exclaimed the Times, "They do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year."

Corporations have hundreds of fully robotized manufacturing plants already in operation or planned, and Philips' manager says, "[With these robots] we can make any consumer device in the world."

Indeed, Apple's iPhone maker in China plans to install more than a million robots to displace untold numbers of workers. Likewise, robots are now assembling Boeing's wide body jets, packing California lettuce in shipping boxes, making Hyundai and Tesla cars, and operating our nation's largest grocery warehouse. The Times says flatly: "This is the future."

Oh? So, what are millions of displaced human workers to do? No one knows. Worse, no planning for or even thinking about the human future is underway. Instead, we're getting balderdash and BS about how "This is the march of progress" that'll "make America more competitive."

"More competitive" for whom and to what end? Too often, we've seen the power elites wave the flag of "progress" as they march right over the well-being of the many.

Now is the time to start a national discussion about their autocratic and avaricious reach for robotic profits, making them address the crucial human issues involved.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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