Now Robots Axe Restaurant Jobs In China, What Next?
Robotics is one of the best innovations in the science and technology domain. Robotic technology has enabled human to execute most difficult tasks efficiently. Considering higher efficiency and cost effective factor, industries are now replacing human jobs with robots worldwide. China also heavily focuses heavily on the robotics and automation technology. Chinese restaurants are rapidly replacing staff with robots, however, the move has created an issue of unemployment in the world’s most populous country.
Chinese restaurants started to replace their workers with robots in late 2006. Numerous robot-themed restaurants have sprung up in China in recent years, with machine-people working as waiters or slicing noodles in the kitchen. Some robot staff is also programmed to dance and sing. There are many economical factors responsible for China’s rising interest in robotics and one of them is to keep a track on rising wages due to manpower shortage. Though some have proven pretty incompetent, they are still cheaper than human wait staff - the approximate $1,200 up-front cost per robot is just a couple months’ salary for an average server in China.
The government is also encouraging manufacturers to automate to compensate for the labor shortage and catch up with others in the use of industrial robotics. According to the Wall Street Journal report, there are around 800 Chinese companies involved in robotics in the country. Apart from the hotel industry, other industries are also rapidly replacing workers with robots; IT equipment manufacturing company Foxconn has reportedly replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots. In a statement to the BBC, Foxconn Technology Group confirmed that it was automating “many of the manufacturing tasks, however, denied long-term job losses.
There are many cons of relying completely on robotics and Chinese restaurants are experiencing the drawbacks of the technology too. The restaurants which replaced waiters with robots, are now on the verge of closing down. Three restaurants in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou reportedly found that employing robot waiting staff was more trouble than it was worth. Of the three establishments, two have closed down, while the third has sent all but one of their robots back and reverted to human servers, the Workers’ Daily newspaper reports.
There is a decade long debate over how robots could affect employment. Those who rage against the machine say the robots will steal jobs and generate unemployment. Others believe robots will give human freedom from difficult and hazardous job. Though robots are more efficient, but failed to bring ‘human touch’ and has contributed to unemployment. Economists have issued dire warnings about how automation will affect the job market, with one report, from consultants Deloitte in partnership with Oxford University, suggesting that 35 per cent of jobs are at risk over the next 20 years.
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