In an interview on Yahoo! Finance, Jeff Macke hosted the Euro Pacific Capital’s CEO Peter Schiff for a discussion on the upcoming wave of the next generations of robots, which has already been under the way on a relatively small scale for the previous couple of years, what changes it may bring in the future, as well as what role companies like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) could play in it.
Schiff emphasized that automation and mechanisation are always positive and stressed that the benefits outweigh the negatives.
“Automation, mechanisation that’s been a trend that has been with us for a while, and it will continue and it is a positive thing. Those are labour-saving devices, they free us from drudgery from repetitive tasks, they make us more productive, and therefore we enjoy a higher standard of living […],” he said.
He commented on how a possible realisation of the popular movement’s demands to increase the minimum hourly wage to $15 for all workers may influence the robotic industry, by saying it would just accelerate the trend of substituting capital for labour, i.e. robots for people as workers for low-skilled labour jobs.
The U.S. robot sales have been increasing at a rate of 12% per year since the 2008, but the growth has been even higher in China, which is both the biggest market and the fastest growing one, followed by Japan, who also has the most industrial robots in the world with more than 300.000. On top of this, in last year an all-time high of almost 180,000 robots were sold world-wide, according to the International Federation of Robotics cited by Euro Pacific Capital.
Schiff said people should not be concerned losing jobs to robots, because jobs themselves are not the end but a mean to deliver the production and consumer goods associated with those jobs. He noted that we are better off with an increased efficiency, i.e. productivity that robots will bring, and that all will benefit from robotization, but “the average people” the most of all, in the form of reduced prices for consumer goods.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) could be the biggest gainers from the trend, according to the source. In 2013, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) purchased eight start-ups engaged in robotics, and recently presented some major improvements in driverless cars. In addition, both Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) plan to introduce an internet-controlled air drone delivery system. The main drivers of growth are the automotive and metal industries, the article noted, with military and fast food industries being the early adopters of robots.