The labor shortage facing the country continues to frustrate businesses, especially during the busy holiday season. Restaurants have resorted to using robot servers or sending corporate employees onto the floor. Now, some e-commerce businesses are using automation and robots to fill orders during the holiday rush. A Dallas company called Quiet Logistics says they've doubled productivity in their warehouses with the use of LocusBots, which help human workers.
The threat of robots taking human jobs and the replacement of human labor with machines or computers is nothing new, according to Texas economist Ray Perryman. "Think of something as simple as the self checkout at the grocery store," he says. "This has been going on for many, many years now...we've been using technology and robotics to replace human labor."
"By the same token, as we've done that, we've also grown the workforce," he continues. "So it's not that technology destroys jobs, it just changes the types of jobs that we need."
Indeed, there are still plenty of humans wanted...the Labor Department reports 11 million job openings nationwide, and approximately 2.5 million fewer people in the workforce now than before the coronavirus pandemic. "There will always be a role for humans in what we do," says Perryman. "And that has always been the case, as we've gone from very primitive societies to very advanced societies."
Perryman sees a future where technology and humans co-exist in the workforce. "In the process of creating new technology, it creates a demand for more and different jobs," he says. "So the real challenge is for our education systems to keep up, and for the workforce to keep their skills up, to be able to adapt."