The effects of progress: Automation and ethics

Innovation leads to progress, but is the outcome always a good one?

Foxconn, the world’s leading contract electronics manufacturer is set to aggressively cut over 10,000 jobs from its panel arm Innolux as they replace workers with robots. A new report by PwC illustrates three waves of automation: The algorithm wave (automation of simple computations), the augmentation wave (automation of repetitive tasks), and the autonomy wave (automation of complex problem solving). Up to 23% of all workers in almost all industries will be replaced in the augmentation wave set to boom in 2020, with females being more heavily affected than males, whilst males will be the most affected overall once all three waves complete.

The issue of automation stems further into the idea of what it means to live in a society. Self-driving cars and Amazon’s no-checkout supermarket reduce human interaction which ultimately leads to greater loneliness, a problem the UK has deemed to be serious enough to hire a Minister of Loneliness.

Read more: Nikkei Asian Review / PwC / Quartz / MIT Tech Review / The Conversation

Image: ColiN00B / CC0-1.0 – Robot bulb trying to unplug

This story is taken from the 9 February 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.