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Automation is set to replace human labour making the argument that we need more people to become taxpayers of tomorrow nonsensical

By Nina Steele 

Industry 4.0 - AutomationA Japanese MP was reprimanded and made to apologise for saying that women who choose to remain single and childless “would become a burden on the state later in life”. In his initial statement, he went as far as to suggest how many children women should have in order to reverse the low birth rate trend that has swept Japan in recent years. And that magical number is at least 3 children per newly married couples. His argument that more humans are needed in order to become the taxpayers of tomorrow, is increasingly being shown to be flawed, because of the rise in automation and the uncertainty it brings for future job prospects.

Chances are that you have come across an article or two about the rise of machines and how they are predicated to take over jobs in the not so distant future. One of the conclusions of a study carried out by the University of Oxford in 2013 is that, in the next two decades, 47% of jobs in the US will be lost to automation. In 2016, another dire prediction was made about the impact automation was likely going to have on jobs, this time, based on data from the World Bank. The data suggests that as many as 69 percent of jobs could be lost to automation in India and 77 percent in China. Considering that these two countries have well over a billion people each, you can already imagine the social upheaval that this will cause.

Whether these figures end up being what really happens or not, one thing is certain, the rise in automation, as we are already seeing, is going to dramatically impact our lives. So much so that some are already suggesting a new paradigm in which everyone would automatically receive state benefits, also referred to as “universal basic Income”. It does make you wonder what kind of social problems might arise as a result of a great number of people having too much time on their hands and not much to do.

Of course one way to mitigate the situation is to encourage people to have fewer children or none at all. It makes no sense at all to have a growing population if all people are going to do is sit around with nothing much to do. One thing the migrant crisis is showing, is what happens when countries have too many young people and fewer opportunities for them to take advantage of. Imagine what will happen when even more jobs are lost to machines around the globe. The social upheavals of recent years would most certainly pale in comparison.

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