Automation is not a threat
Robots are most useful for routine tasks – namely, such work is typical of mass production with high labor costs.
But so far, robots are still much more expensive to replace thousands of workers in labor-intensive industries, most of whom are in the very early process of industrialization. Robots are now best used in technologically more advanced things, such as the automotive or electronics industries.
Complicated digital environment
Even a rapid drop in the cost of robots will not lead to the replacement of workers. Other problems include unreliable energy sources, high cost of electricity and financing of new technologies. For these reasons, it will be difficult and expensive to integrate robots and other digital technologies into businesses that are just beginning to move forward.
Accordingly, it remains possible to carry out industrialization using labor-intensive industries. It is more likely that the business climate will develop gradually. First, it is necessary to create a basic infrastructure – including reliable energy sources, roads, ports, financing and personnel. And on this foundation companies can already build industries with a large number of workplaces.
If the digital environment is suitable enough, it makes sense to use robots that eliminate some jobs.
However, there is another threat here – international competition. Industrial robots allow countries such as Germany, USA, Japan and China to produce more competitive products than ever before. In these countries, robots cost less than well-paid workers.
But this threat is not new. Technologically advanced and innovative manufacturers have always compressed other companies from the labor market and made it difficult for companies from less innovative countries to operate. What matters is how governments will respond to these threats.
China is introducing a policy to promote the technology industries. This strategy has given Chinese firms access to technology of foreign corporations.
At the UN Conference on Trade and Development, it was stated that robot-based product automation and the resulting savings in the medium term could lead to companies transporting production from developing countries and emerging markets back to industrialized ones.
Digital infrastructure, trained workers and accessible financial opportunities should become features of the business climate. Otherwise, it will be impossible to profitably use robots in production processes.
Modernization based on technology will be beneficial both in terms of innovative products and in terms of new workplaces.