Due to the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birth rate, robots are being viewed as the future

Marica Micallef

Covid-19 lockdowns are, hopefully, a thing of the past now. So is the pandemic. It seems. Yet, the lockdowns and closures of many businesses, with people calling in sick or being quarantined due to Covid, have started an unprecedented scenario of labour and product shortages together with supply chain issues which might lead to robots taking over tasks that used to be done by humans.

Back in September 2021, Sky News reported that “From “cancelled” Christmas dinners to numerous energy suppliers collapsing and items missing from supermarket shelves, many industry experts claim Britain is in crisis.”[1]

According to this media portal, Britain is running low on food supplies, lorry drivers, pet food, bikes, beer, cars, electronics, and construction material.

This crisis was brought about by labour shortages, new immigration regulations, and the pandemic’s lingering effects. Rising wholesale natural gas prices in Europe also shocked producers of energy, chemicals, and steel, straining supply chains that were already strained by a labour shortage and the turmoil surrounding Brexit. Since the beginning of 2021, wholesale gas prices have risen by 250 percent, and they have risen by 70 percent since August 2021.

So, the billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, claimed that Optimus, also known as the Tesla Bot, the company’s future humanoid robot, can assist address labour shortages, notably the one the United States is currently experiencing. According to him, it would be the solution.

“The tech billionaire described the humanoid robot, which was unveiled during Tesla AI Day in August 2021, as the “most important product development we’re doing this year.””[2] 

It may be noted that Musk discussed the potential uses of the robot during the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) CEO Council event in December 2021. Musk talked about what the robot could potentially do amid the declining population:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSD_vpfikbE At that time, he said “”[The Tesla Bot] has the potential to be a generalized substitute for human labour over time. The foundation of the economy is labour. Capital equipment is essentially distilled labour… The fundamental constraint is labour. There are not enough people. I can’t emphasize this enough. There are not enough people. I think one of the biggest risks for civilizations is the low birth-rate and the rapidly declining birth-rate.”

[1] https://news.sky.com/story/energy-crisis-is-britain-running-on-empty-heres-what-were-short-of-and-the-industries-under-threat-12415007

[2] https://www.ibtimes.com/elon-musk-says-optimus-robot-can-help-solve-us-labor-shortage-3385475

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