Robotic Factory Workers Getting Laid Off Just Like the Rest of Us

One of the dangers of humanizing robots—giving them person-like shapes, names and roles—is that when they face joblessness due to a decrease in demand for manufacturing, you actually feel a little sorry for them.

That's the situation now in Japan, where industrial production has sunk by 40%, leaving scores of mechanized workers with nothing to do. So, they sit.

It gets worse (for robots): industrial robot sales fell by around 60% in the first quarter of the year, which will have unfortunately effects for people outside of the manufacturing world. Why? Who do you think pays for all those ridiculous robot vanity projects we always write about? Yup, it's the same guys who can't move any Catalytic Converters Assemblybot 3000s. Basically, not only will robots continue to lose their jobs—as a genus, if we can call them that, they'll actually start to get less cool.

In a broader context, this is also kind of disturbing. A large, newly-unemployed population with few prospects and a precarious political climate is the classic recipe for the rise of totalitarianism. A large, newly-unemployed robot population with few prospects and a precarious political climate? I don't like the sound of that one bit. [NYT]