Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This video (HT to Carpe Diem) is about a new, robotic warehousing system. I could see all kinds of lessons arising from this video.

Show the video and ask students to identify which tasks disappear when a system like this is introduced? Using a productivity or growth equation (Y = aF[L,K,N] or some variation), what is happening when a system like this is introduced? What tasks is the system taking over? What skill-level would workers doing that job have to have to do those tasks? How would those jobs be classified (skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled)? How might this system offer an improvement over workers performing those tasks? How would marginal cost/benefit be a part of the decision to introduce such a system?

What would be the implications to a program of unemployment support for displaced workers if systems like this were wide-spread? Would this be an example of cyclical or structural unemployment? How does this relate to Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction?

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