The robot takeover is already here.
A 2017 paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research found that every industrial robot that gets introduced into the U.S. labor market takes away an estimated five human jobs. Wages can drop as much as 25 cents when a robot is introduced into the workforce, according to the report.
In other words, robots could disrupt entire industries. Now, it’s just a matter of where.
The most robots exist in Michigan
Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program mapped out where industrial robots live using sales data from the International Federation of Robots. Your anxiety about having your job taken by robots may depend on where you live, according to their findings.
Researchers found that robots will cluster in the Midwest and the upper South, regions that house the heart of the nation’s automobile industry and employ almost half of all industrial robots. Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana are the top three states with the highest concentration of industrial robots.
These aren’t the artificial intelligence robots that Elon Musk has warned are “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” This is a separate, but related, topic.
The researchers define the industrial robots as “automatically controlled, reprogrammable machines,” robots that can paint cars, package things, and burn welds as humans once exclusively did. But robots have an advantage over humans. Unlike a human worker at these factories, an industrial bot doesn’t complain or tire.
Republican states have more robots than Democratic states
The study links the places where you can find a robot to the places where you can find the highest concentrations of people anxious about automation.
“Anxiety about robots — like their physical distribution — will also likely have its own geography,” the study predicts.
Although the researchers explicitly state that robots did not determine the 2016 U.S. election, they found it “telling” that there were twice as many robots in states that voted for Donald Trump than for Hillary Clinton.
“The red-state robot concentration does suggest that to the extent industrial automation brings difficult labor market transitions and anxiety, it will visit those difficulties most heavily on a particular swath of red-leaning America—specifically, the most robot-exposed locations in the industrial Midwest,” the study states.
Automation is going to affect us all in different ways depending on a variety of factors. What this study shows is that we have one more variable to worry about: automation will impact us not only socially, economically, but geographically, too.