Are Humans Going to Take Jobs Away from Robots?

By now the entire world has heard that robots are stealing jobs from hardworking humans. We know that robots are mean, evil, and they’re going to be our overlords, or something to that effect. Soon, no one will be employable, we will have to tax robots to supplement the lost revenue from income taxes, and we will need to implement some type of universal income. That’s what people say, anyway.

Over the past few years most stories, articles, and reports on industrial automation focus on the inevitability of robots taking jobs from humans. There’s a new notion, however, that some manufacturers are replacing robots with humans.

Why replace robots with humans?

A recent Forbes article points out that manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, are replacing some of their manufacturing robots with human workers.


Manufacturing is changing. It’s not all about cranking out high volume as quickly as possible. Today’s consumers want customization and individualized products. They expect it. Robots aren’t as well suited as people are to bring individualization to consumers. At least at the moment.

All of the things that make robots so perfect for producing large amounts of the exact same product – speed, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, etc. – aren’t as beneficial when you need a lot of customization.

Our ability to adjust to variables and make flexible changes gives human workers a leg up over robots in this regard. That doesn’t mean that we will see a decrease in automation, however.

We will always need robots

We aren’t going to see factory owners trying to unload their robots in garage sales, because they’ve been replaced by human workers, any time soon.

There will always be a need for industrial robots and automation. Yes, consumers want more customization, but there is still the need for the high-volume production made possible by industrial robots in manufacturing.

What’s more is that the capabilities of robots keep improving. Our current industrial machines can’t handle the variables required for custom production, but that doesn’t mean that will always be the case.

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