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Opinion / Opinion Line

Workers have to adapt to use of robots

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-27 09:02

Workers have to adapt to use of robots

A robot made in China is displayed at the World Robot Conference 2015, which opened in Beijing on Nov 21, 2015. The conference has attracted more than 100 experts. [Photo/China Daily]

DONGGUAN, once famous for manufacturing and processing, has seen its industries decline in recent years. Faced with a crisis, the government of the city in South China's Guangdong province began a campaign to replace workers with robots. Three years ago, the local municipality even set up a 200-million-yuan ($32 million) annual fund for enterprises employing robots. China Youth Daily comments:

Traditional manufacturing industries all over the world are feeling the pressure of the global economic downturn. But instead of shutting down their production units and spreading panic, enterprises can easily substitute human workers with robots. This may not revive abandoned plants in the short term but could establish a positive trend in the long run.

Alan Turing proposed the "artificial intelligence" concept half a century ago. Today it is clear that Industry 4.0 (or the fourth industrial revolution) cannot be accomplished without the use of robots.

Similarly, the "Made in China 2025" concept is also inseparable from the core of "artificial intelligence". Global sales of industrial robots grew 26.4 percent in 2014, with the most rapid growth being in China.

After "machine substitution", enterprises can substantially reduce their labor and management costs, and laid-off industrial workers will have to adapt to the changing trend and improve their skills in order to get greater value for their labor.

For many, the question still is: If robots take the place of workers, where will the workers go?

As enterprises go bankrupt or employ more robots, "surplus" labor will indeed encounter problems of employment and survival. But we still need artificial intelligence, albeit well-controlled, because it guarantees accuracy and efficiency, and workers will have to adjust to the changing situation.

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