According to President Trump, America’s factories are “rusted-out” and “scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.” Alternative fact: they’re producing goods at a near-record pace.
However, thanks to automation, US factories are doing all of this without employing very many people. In fact, they made 85% more stuff in 2016 than in 1987, with just two-thirds the number of worker bees.
And so, while Trump’s rhetoric isn’t entirely accurate (our factories aren’t tombstones), it’s not wrong, either (they aren’t creating as many jobs as they used to).
Where do we go from here?
Well, let’s think about this for a second… production is up, and payroll is down. Both are great for manufacturers.
Therefore, while robots taking our jobs is a sh*tty reality, it is the reality, and we ought to start embracing it and setting ourselves up for future success.
More specifically, the United States should probably start investing more heavily in robots (paywall). Because that’s clearly the future. And we’re already way behind the competition, namely China.
That’s right, folks, they’re beating us once again
Over the last few years, the Chinese government has invested billions in the industrial robotics industry, and as a result, the country’s well on its way to becoming the largest producer of robots in the world.
Meanwhile, we’ve invested very little in robotics here at home, prompting people like Mark Cuban to call on Washington to pick up the pace.
“We better do something, or we’re going to be behind the gun,” said one industry expert. “We should be in the robot business, not just users of foreign robots.”
Think about it this way…
Today, much of what we buy is made in China by Chinese people. Tomorrow (if we don’t change course), much of what we buy will be made in America — by Chinese robots.
As China has proven, government plays a central role in developing the robotics industry and, more importantly, deciding who will win the race for manufacturing’s future.
Whether it’s through direct investment, manufacturing reforms, or subsidies for companies willing to buy and build industrial robots, we must act now. Otherwise, we’re going to lose bigly.