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商业 - 科技

如何防止机器人抢走你的饭碗?

Ryan Feit 2014年12月05日

机器人时代即将到来,许多职业或将遭遇灭顶之灾,但与其想方设法地保护就业岗位或提高最低工资标准,倒不如好好想想如何改进过时的教育体系,以应对新科技革命的挑战。

    机器人来了,而且想抢走你的工作。Savioke公司最近开发了一款三英尺高的机器人SaviOne,它可以代替服务员,向酒店房间送零食或洗漱用品。除了可以自动找到你的房间、送东西之外,它甚至还可以自行坐电梯,而且既不用睡觉也不用去洗手间。此外,机器人也不会辞职——据美国酒店业协会(American Hotel & Lodging Association)估算,在美国酒店业中,非管理岗位的员工流动率高达50%左右。

    除了酒店业,Momentum Machines公司也发明了一款会烤汉堡的机器人,每10秒钟就可以做一个汉堡包。该机器人可以代替三名全职厨房员工,占据的空间也更少,有望降低成本。Momentum Machines公司的联合创始人亚里山德罗斯•瓦尔达克斯塔斯最近在利姆诺实验室(Lemnos Labs)接受采访时称,他的机器人“并不是为了让员工更有效率,而是要完全取代他们。”

    Savioke和Momentum Machines的机器人,都是即将到来的科技革命的早期信号。拜机器人学、大数据、云计算和移动技术的长足进步所赐,这次科技革命可能会取代千百万人的工作。在这次革命中,我们看到的图景可能与工业革命时期没什么不同。在1920年,英国企业雇佣的手工绵纺织工约为24万人。而随着机械织布机的兴起,不到40年,其中99%的工作岗位都消失了。

    牛津大学(Oxford University)最近的一项研究显示,在未来20年中,现有工作的47%都有可能被自动化所取代。自19世纪早期的工业革命以来,各种新发明创造的新工作岗位,足以抵补那些失去的职业。但鉴于如今的科技创新企业能够以最少的人数创造极大的成就,这次的情况可能会非常不一样。比如在2012年,Instagram的注册用户达到3000万人,并被Facebook出价10亿美元收购——Instagram当时只有13名员工。相比之下,柯达公司(Kodak)于2012年申请破产,它在最高峰时曾拥有14.5万名员工。

    大颠覆的确就要到来了,那么我们应该做些什么呢?

    如果以史为鉴,有些人可能会推动保护主义,使某些工作不被自动化取代,以保持短期内的就业水平。在下一个10年里,随着无人驾驶汽车的发展,美国有23.3万名出租车司机和170万名卡车司机都要面临失业的风险。现在美国的许多城市已经试图封堵打车应用Uber,所以在无人驾驶汽车问题上,我们可能也会遇到同样的反对声浪。但在长期看,封锁创新是一种短视行为,而且会使国家失去竞争力,落于于那些乐于接受更高效的新技术的国家。

    在未来20年里,那些非熟练技术工更有可能感受到被机器人夺走工作的痛苦。贫富差距会进一步加大。这有可能进一步加剧紧张局面,刺激更多人游说提高最低工资。但是就像保护主义一样,提高最低工资最终也可能起到反效果。比如提高酒店业和快餐业员工的最低工资,可能会进一步提高企业对自动化的兴趣,因为他们觉得这样做无疑会给公司省更多的钱。

    因此,与其推行就业保护主义、提升最低工资,我们还不如认真考虑应该如何改进美国过时的教育体系。在19世纪,正是教育拯救了这个国家。这一次,教育也同样是决定性因素。

    The robots are coming and they want your job. Savioke recently developed a three-foot tall SaviOne robot that replaces the human delivery of snacks and amenities to your hotel room. The robotic butler can navigate your room, make deliveries and even ride the elevator — all without sleeping or going to the bathroom. In addition, robots don’t quit their jobs, whereas the hotel industry, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, experiences staff turnover of around 50% in non-management staff.

    Moving beyond the hotel industry, Momentum Machines invented a burger-flipping robot that can produce a burger every 10 seconds. This robot replaces three full-time kitchen staff and takes up far less space, potentially able to reduce costs. Momentum Machines Co-Founder Alexandros Vardakostas recently said in an interview at Lemnos Labs that his robot “isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

    Both Savioke and Momentum Machines are early signs of the upcoming Technology Revolution. Spawned by advances in robotics, big data, cloud computing and mobile, the revolution could replace millions of jobs. If you recall, the Industrial Revolution was no different than what we will likely see in the future. In 1820, the UK employed approximately 240,000 cotton hand weavers. Within 40 years, 99% of those jobs vanished as a result of the mechanical loom.

    About half, 47%, of today’s jobs could be automated away over the next 20 years, according to a recent study by Oxford University. Following the Industrial Revolution during the early 1800s, new inventions created more than enough new work to replace the jobs that were dislocated. But given the ability of today’s technology startups to reach massive scale with minimal headcount, things very well might be different this time around. In 2012, Instagram reached 30 million users and was acquired by Facebook FB -3.35% for $1 billion — all with just 13 employees. By contrast, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and employed 145,000 people during its peak.

    Indeed, disruption is coming. So what should we do about it?

    If history is any indication, some will push for protectionism, shielding certain jobs in order to preserve employment levels in the short-term. Over the next decade, 233,000 taxi drivers and 1.7 million truck drivers in the U.S. could be at risk of having their jobs automated away by driverless vehicles. Given that many cities have already attempted to block the expansion of Uber, we could experience similar tensions when driverless cars arrive. However, in the long-term, attempting to block innovation is short-sighted and makes countries less competitive relative to others who are willing to accept new, more efficient technologies.

    Over the next two decades, the most pain will be felt by lesser-skilled workers most likely to lose their jobs to automation. As a result, the gap between the “haves and the have-nots” will widen. This could potentially create tension and fuel lobbying to increase the minimum wage. But like protectionism, raising the minimum wage could ultimately be counter-productive. Increasing minimum wage for hotel or fast-food employees, for example, could actually make companies more interested in automating away those positions if it actually saves companies more money.

    Instead of protecting jobs or increasing the minimum wage, we should seriously consider improving America’s antiquated education system. Education is what saved the nation during the 19th century and it could be critical this time as well.

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