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The “Curse” of Labor-Saving Machinery Is Nothing New



mises.org / Brittany Hunter / Jan 10, 2017

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At the end of last year, Amazon unveiled, “Amazon Go,” a futuristic, fully-automated convenience store set to open its doors in Seattle, Washington, within the next few months. While this exciting new venture promises to make quick-stop shopping trips easier for busy consumers, critics are wary of this type of advanced automation, and fear its widespread use could jeopardize a vast amount of jobs.

Amazon Go is a truly unique shopping experience free of lines, registers, and checkouts of any kind. Instead, the store utilizes its customers’ smartphones and “grab and go technology,” which allows the consumer to simply walk in, grab desired items, and then get on with the rest of their day.

However, since this modern convenience store does not require human employees, labor activists fear the negative implications Amazon Go could potentially have on employment rates, especially if more companies begin moving toward automation.

These concerns in regards to employment are not necessarily unwarranted, nor are they specific to our modern world. In fact, mankind actually has a long track record of fearing mechanical progress and blaming it for high unemployment rates throughout history.

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