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The Effects Technological Unemployment has on Society

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Technology
Wordcount: 3573 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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A lot of people are aware that there is a significant increase in the amount of jobs lost to automation recently but a lot of people do not realise the affects that this has on our society. The effects Technological Unemployment has on society affect it in a number of different ways from a significant rise in crime rate in certain countries to an increase in the costs that a government has to pay to people who are unemployed to an increased death toll in countries due to unemployment affecting people so badly. I believe that the effects technological unemployment has on society are more negative rather than positive due to an increase in crime rates in countries, increase in unemployed people in countries which has been shown can lead to higher rates of suicide increasing the death toll in some countries and many other negative effects although it can be shown to increase employment in some countries as people can get employment for the maintenance and steady running of these machines but in my opinion I believe the effects technological unemployment has on society are negative. Throughout the years the levels of unemployment due to advances in automation in the workplace has increased significantly although hiring machines to do the work in industries may be a lot more cost efficient it has a negative effect on society in several different way as mentioned above. Studies in American show that nearly 40% of jobs in America may be vulnerable to replacement by robots in the next fifteen years compared to 35% in Germany and 21% in Japan. (Glaser 2017)

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The term ‘Technological Unemployment’ is unemployment caused by technological advancement. Economicshelp.org describes technological unemployment as “Technological unemployment occurs when developments in technology and working practices cause some workers to lose their jobs.” This can be when a company changes out its manual labour for automated machines reducing the need for human labour on the premises making it more cost efficient for these companies to bring in automated processes rather than hire staff. In the workplace it can be extremely more efficient for companies to run automation rather than human labour due to the fact that these automated machines can run 24/7 without any problem and do not require breaks like human workers allowing a company to be more productive and keep costs down for insurance welfare and many other benefits that you would be required by law to provide for a human worker. Automated machines can be more efficient in ways that the automated machines require less maintenance allowing them to be setup faster and used to their full potential right away, you can control the output of these machines more efficiently with machines that are able to machine manufacture items for workshops with a simple upload of a design using CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) the machine can perform the manufacturing process with less variability than human workers which can lead to greater control, consistency and quality of products for businesses. (Mikell P. Groover 2018)

Although automation is very effective in some businesses, in other is can be quite the opposite some companies that use automation can be making the wrong decision as the job may be better off suited to human workers instead of the robotic machines. Studies show that the average Chinese worker becomes around 12-13% more productive each year showing that the workers in China can become more and more productive each year which could eliminate the need for automated machines in China due to smaller wages with high productivity levels. In some cases, companies in China could have very little automated processes due to the fact that the Chinese workforce can become more productive each year increasing productivity and effectiveness. (‘How will automation affect economies around the world? | McKinsey’ 2018)

Automated processes can be very helpful in banking with different automated processes and algorithms in place to stop fraud and theft of people financial earnings and data. An article on ZDNET claims that without the help of automated processes detecting fraud and theft in bank accounts bank tellers would never be able to act on situations of theft so quickly the article states “Without the help of automated decision-making, neither the loan officer nor the card service clerk would be able to act on these business scenarios so quickly. The company saves money; it reduces the risk of an employee making a decision on credit that might not be sound; and it pleases the customer because she gets an answer right away.” (Shacklett 2018)

The cost of automation can be relatively expensive upfront but over time it can lead to a major saving in costs of hiring workers. A study on RNAAutomation.com shows that the initial cost of automation can total £396,000 compared to the cost of employing four workers doing 2 shifts a day totalling £400,000 although the initial cost may seem small the savings over time that automation can create is substantial, in as little as 3 years RNA Automation shows figures of over £86,000 savings just from using automation compared to hiring regular workers to do shifts, this is a major saving in running costs for a business who chooses do have an automated business. (‘Cost of Manual Labour vs. Automation Infographic’ 2018)

Breakdowns from these machines can cause a lot of problems for a business stopping production for long lengths of time the longer the machine is unrepaired the more money the business is losing. Matt Nichol claims that “ The true cost of a machine breakdown has been estimated as between four to 15 times the maintenance costs” (‘The real cost of unreliable equipment — it’s significant’ 2017) This can be an extreme cost for the business if they are a small business with little capital it have a very negative impact if one of these machines were to break down or malfunction.

In recent times automation has affected manufacturing in many ways from large to small, such as automating lathes or saws in construction to fully automated factories, it is amazing how far automation has affected manufacturing in recent times. An article by Jonathon Grigg states that “Today, almost 56 percent of global companies do some type of automation. Automation has made us stronger, faster and more competitive and future possibilities are limitless.” (‘The Effects of Automation on Manufacturing’ 2018). Automation can help increase productivity and effectiveness of manufacturing greatly replacing the need for workers and allowing for little error in any of the processes in manufacturing due to the level of precision that the automated machines can perform their tasks at.

Some of the costs of setting up automation in a business can be extremely expensive or relatively cheap for the work being carried out. RobotWorx quotes that a standard robot arm with a welding package can cost anywhere from $28,000 to $40,000(‘How Much Does Robot Automation Cost?’ 2018) this would be an extremely popular option for the likes of car manufacturers ie. Ford, Vauxhall or Honda would be popular examples of automated businesses. Purchasing refurbished robot systems can be a lot more inexpensive it can be up to 50% of the cost of a brand-new robot system RobotWorx explains.

 Running costs for these machines are very low and maintenance costs are also inexpensive as these robot systems do not tend to break down often and if it were to happen then it would be as ideal to purchase another reconditioned system rather than pay for the repair in some cases although not all the time.

Although automation may be extremely efficient in the manufacturing side of things it can have a very negative impact on society due to the increase in unemployment it creates, this can have a domino effect on different parts on society from crime to large factors in some countries like the death toll.

 After becoming unemployed an increase in the risk of suicide can come occur due to the feeling of shame, low self-esteem or despair and article on MCES.org states that “ Serious risk factors that may be affected are a past history of suicidal behaviour, existing serious mental illness (particularly with a co-occurring anxiety or panic disorder), alcohol and substance abuse, marital, family, or other interpersonal conflict, and a background involving abuse, trauma, or violence.” (‘MCES’ 2018) These factors can be affected by people becoming unemployed and struggling to pay rent or other bills they may have this can be a big factor in the risk in suicide in individuals who have become unemployed.

There have been studies to show an increasing trend in unemployment due to advances in technological advancement in businesses. Some researchers claim that in the year 2030 one third of workers in the United States could be jobless due to automation. Although these figures are estimates for the near future there are some jobs than can be considered safe from technological unemployment due to the nature of the work, plumbers labourers and jobs like caretakers for the elderly and not predicted to be hindered by technological unemployment as much. Although advances in this technology can have its benefits there are problems that need to be fixed like having jobs with an equal number of automated machines as they have human staff to decrease the unemployment rate in some cases and keep up efficiency and productivity levels.

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In my option I believe the idea of having workplaces that are at an even ratio of automated machines to human workers could benefit everyone including society as it can eliminate high levels of unemployment whilst keeping productivity levels and efficiency high. Studies show some forms of automation increase employment and create jobs, an article on Forbes.com by Xie states that “by lowering the cost of opening a branch, ATMs helped increase the number of banks by more than 40%.” (Xie 2018). The opening of these banks is creating a lot of jobs for the society this debates the question whether advances in automation can make society more of a dystopia or utopia showing that automation can take jobs and have negative impacts but also have positive impacts making it a question with no clear answer.

In some countries there have been studies to show that in some cases the crime rate has risen along with the unemployment rate stating that people who are becoming unemployed are resorting to crime to try and provide shelter or food for themselves. An article on OpinionFront.com claims that David Mustard, Eric Gould and Bruce Weinberg “hold a view that higher crime rate is linked to unemployment. They also argue that it is the unemployed, low-skilled workers who tend to turn towards crime, more than those who are highly educated.” (‘Does Unemployment Increase Crime Rate?’ 2018). There are many studies that show that the crime rate in countries can increase with high unemployment levels. Another study on this topic states that “People who are among the fourth category of joblessness – those who are out of the labour force for reasons that generally are not socially acceptable and who also are not looking for work – are most likely to commit burglary. These individuals also are significantly more likely to commit robbery.” (Kleck and Jackson 2016). ”

Technological unemployment can have a lot of effects on society and the people within but there is also a lot of setbacks on the government such as paying benefits to these people who are unemployed and other matters like providing healthcare for families dealing with poverty due to unemployment. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics in the UK show that the government is paying £2 billion pounds a year in unemployment benefit to those who are unemployed. The government also spends another £46 billion on family benefits, income support and tax credits which is an extremely large amount of money to be paying for a government.

Government housing is a big expenditure for the government also, this can be fundamental for unemployed people who are struggling to purchase, keep or maintain a home they can get financial aid from the government for this these housing benefits that the government pay are costing £25 billion a year. There are a lot of different expenditures that the government need to pay for people who are struggling from unemployment not only does unemployment have a substantial effect on society it has a negative effect on our government also. (‘How is the welfare budget spent? – Office for National Statistics’ 2018)

There are a lot of opportunities for people impacted by unemployment. There are many different schemes and opportunities that the Citizens information recommend such as Back to Work Allowance which assists people who are unemployed to set up their own business and become self-employed whilst doing this scheme some people can keep their social welfare payments so that they have adequate funding to set up and run their own business. Another opportunity is Community employment which “provides long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people with training and work experience through part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities” (Citizensinformation.ie 2018). I find that these are great ideas for anyone who has been impacted by unemployment and are looking for work to provide for their families and it can be a great idea for them to do.


There are a lot of different effects technological unemployment can have on not only society but also the government and people it has an impact on. I believe that it can have both negative and positive effects if not implemented correctly on society but if it were to be implemented in a way that instead of just making a business completely automated they can have a mixture of both human staff and robots working in the environment, this would create an even balance and the business would still be able to maintain their increased productivity levels and efficiency instead of creating this fully automated business making the world feel like more and more of a dystopia with poverty levels, crime ,unemployment rates and even as far as an increase in the risk of suicide in unemployed people. The effect that advances in technology can have on the world can be substantial, but they need to implement these advances correctly for the world to seem like more of a utopia, providing jobs to lower the rates mentioned earlier.

When reading articles and books on whether technological advancement is having positive or negative effects on society it is clear to me there is no definite answer as people have very strong points for both. Some people think that the United states could lose 60% of its jobs to automation whereas others believe that an increase in automation can lead to positive effects unless automation is brought in correctly and all businesses do not become fully automated I think that automation in the workplace can be a great idea and have a great effect on society creating jobs and increasing productivity while reducing running costs. Automation will become more and more popular in businesses in time to come due to the effectiveness and high levels of productivity and cost saving measures in place making it more cost efficient to have a fully automated business compared to one with human labour. I expect to see automation become more and more common in the next few years to come and can expect good things from this if implemented correctly. Although some people may not be very happy with the changes businesses are doing it is more efficient for the businesses to replace their human workers with robots for many different reasons whilst also having negative impacts on the economy and society.



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