Robots have become a common sight in Japanese factories. It is estimated that as many as sixty percent of Japanese manufacturing firms now have industrial robots or other computer equipment. According to the Japan industrial Robot Association, at least 100,000 robots have been placed on production lines in Japan. There are more robots in Japan than in the rest of the world.
The robots in Japanese factories are mostly of one type-faceless bodiless, one-arm robots. Most do the work of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger of a human.
Although the simple industrial robot was invented and first developed in the United States, American factories have been slow to use them. However, American scientists have been busy developing more humanlike robots which can work in homes an offices.
What are the effects of using so many faceless, bodiless, one-arm robots in Japanese factories? It is clear that there are many advantages. Robots have taken over many of the hot, dirty, dangerous, tiring, and boring jobs on the production line, especially in car factories. Secondly, robots are small, strong, and easy to use and look after and are quite cheap. They also work faster and better than humans. They make fewer mistakes and the quality of their work is better. It is easy to see, therefore, the advantages of using industrial robots.
But what about the disadvantages? The main one is unemployment. It is estimated that at least 50,000 workers in Japan have been replaced by robots. Most of these workers are old an middle-aged men and young women. Although some workers have moved into other jobs in the factory such as sales or computer programming, many workers now spend their time in unimportant positins on the production line, like pushing buttons on robots.
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