I am curious as to your thoughts on this article from a libertarian perspective?
Robots will eliminate more than 5 million jobs in the next 5 years
Well, first, this is an economic question, not really one about libertarianism. That said, it is important to understand what a robot is. It is a capital good. There are all kinds of capital goods, A shovel is a capital good, a tractor is a capital good, a computer can be a capital good.
What capital goods tend to do is take the place of labor. Without shovels, man would have to dig with his hands, without a tractor, man would have to till the soil with a hoe, without a computer, there are also sorts of calculations that would have to be done by pen and paper, if at all, and that is not taking into consideration the value of the computer in allowing us to communicate. follow news, etc. via the internet.
In short, capital goods make the world a much richer place. A robot is just a sophisticated capital good.
Could robots, eliminate 5 million jobs? Of course! Capital goods always free up labor for different kinds of work. Hell, wheels on luggage have resulted in something like 70% of hotel bellmen jobs being eliminated.
The problem with the article is the last sentence:
The net effect: 5.1 million jobs lost. And no new jobs to replace them.This indicates a fundamental failure to understand basic economics. In an economy, markets clear, that is, if there is more supply of a good the price will drop. This includes wages. Unless the price of labor goes to zero, there is demand for labor. It's basic supply and demand economics. The idea that 5.1 million people wouldn't be able to find jobs, other than for a transition period, makes no sense as long as there is a price for labor, And I hereby put a bid in at $1.00 an hour for any competent person who can't find work at a higher price. I could make tons of money offering laborers only $1.00 an hour, but I am not going to get anyone offering their labor at that rate because the market wage rate is much higher. I occasionally use CollegeLabor,org for various work. I never get any bids below the $ 12.00 to $15.00 range. Sometimes I have to pay more, in the $20 range.
Anyone who claims that there would be no jobs, just doesn't understand the dynamics of how markets work. There will always be entrepreneurs who will figure out where to employ laborers. Until we all have 5 or 6 servants waiting on us for every need, the idea that the labor market is saturated is just a myth created by rigid thinkers. But there is more!
Here is the real kicker. If capital goods are used to increase production, which they do, and they free up individuals for other work, which they do, then the amount of output in an economy increases. The more output, the more access individuals have to goods and services. In other words, increases in capital, including robots, are always a good thing. They increase the standard of living for an economy overall. Just think about what an economy would be like without cement trucks, freight planes, computers, forklifts, factory equipment and on and on.
Without capital, there would be jobs for all of us, but it would be gruesome work and the standard of living for all of us would be much, much lower. All hail the robots!
(Note: The one place robots may actually replace workers who can't find other jobs is when minimum wage laws are high. If there is a low productivity worker and it makes sense for him to be replaced by a robot---and the higher the minimum wage in an area the more sense it will make, the less likely such a person will be able to find a job if he can't offer his services below the minimum wage.)