Automation – The Savior – Not The Destroyer

There is a lot of doom and gloom about the future, technology, automation and employment.

Previously, I have written about sweat shops and the coming automation in the making of clothing. Automation faces many hurdles.

One of those hurdles is that the costs have to offer a return on investment compared to traditional manufacturing technologies.

Even if that technology is centuries old. Using people to manufacture clothing – in the present era (starting at least 100 years ago) is the sweat shop. In this recent article it is reported that workers earned £3 an hour to manufacture clothing for high end retailers.

That dress you are wearing – and paid $200 for? The person making it took less than an hour and was paid like $4 for their entire hour.

So, who is making the money? Well, the retailers are making the money – and they apply pressure to the manufacturers to provide the lowest prices.

So, automation. It is going to take jobs. Some jobs need to go away. The sweat shop needs to go away. Ironically, since they pay so little it will take longer before automation penetrates in to this market.

People will not have health care to make that dress.

People will not have enough money to survive to make those jeans.

People will work in dangerous environments with high risk of fire – to make those undies.

It needs to stop.

Oh, and just a side note. There is a reason we have regulations and laws. It is because businesses cannot be trusted to behave in an ethical manner. You can complain about the costs to businesses because of all these regulations, but the fact of the matter is that businesses as a whole will reduce costs to the lowest they can regardless of industry and will break rules, behave unethically and endanger the lives of their customers and employees simply to maximize profits.

So, the ship where we have low number of regulations and laws and people are treated well – that ship has sailed. The ship we are on now, where you have to document workers hours, how much you paid them, and are forced to treat them properly – because you have to (not because you choose to – that is the ship we are on now.

The Future of Clothing

The future of clothing is more than just the future of clothing. There is social impact of who makes the clothing, under what conditions, how much money do they make, and what happens to the makers of clothing.

In 1911 in my local home area of New York City there was a fire that killed 146 people. It was at a garment factory – two are known to have been 14-year-old girls. This was a culture changing event – inflaming needs for unions, worker safety, and city, state and federal standards for safety in the work place.

It seems, though, that lessons of garment workers, fires, standards, wages, and safety are not worldwide. Defying all rules for the dispersal of information and geography, in 2012 in Bangladesh killed 117 people and over 200 people injured.  The company produced clothes for lots of different organizations that United States consumers purchase.

Once again, in order to avoid the flames people jumped from the building rather than burn to death.

On 24 April 2013 a building housing multiple clothing manufacturers collapsed killing 1100 workers and injuring 2000 others.

The garment making market has been known for ages for “sweatshops” oriented toward clothing manufacture. Associated with horrible working conditions, low pay, no benefits, and easily threatened workers by management – this practice has not disappeared over time. In fact, as demand for goods (and low prices) has continued the practice has simply become more widespread.

Technology is the answer. This article indicates that 3D printing may offer clothing. It shows a few examples. However; based on the sheer manufacturing output 3D printing would have to vastly improve before it would replace much of the garment manufacturing throughput. Still, it is out there. It is happening. It has created real clothing. Perhaps one day it will be part of the answer to poor labor conditions in the garment industry.

There is automation in the garment manufacture industry. These robots might also be part of the answer. Still, though, the reason people are still making clothing is because clothing is tough to deal with – floppy, with lots of curves cut in to it – and it is hard to cut cloth without some tension. This technology solves the floppy unpredictable nature of clothing by making the cloth stiff.

There is some concern about job losses due to automation, but in this case, let the jobs go. No one needs to be treated like cogs in a machine, with no healthcare, and no future.

So, the future of clothing, involves not just the future of clothes and their manufacture, but the jobs, how people are treated and hopefully the end of the “sweatshop”.

Series : Everyday Inhuman Humans – Day 13 7/17/2016

Honor killing – family kills sister.

There are some meme out there that pretend to show an equivalence between western culture’s treatment of women (scantily clad in a bikini) and middle eastern women (clad in a full burka).

This is shown to be a lie every time there is an honor killing. Specifically, every time there is an honor killing due to a woman not conforming to standards of expected behavior.

Qandeel Baloch was her name. She was only 26 years old. She was killed because she wore ‘provocative’ clothing. She was killed by her brother. It seems most likely from the article that she was killed by two of her brothers.

The difference between a burka in Islamic society and a bikini in western society is that not wearing one can get you killed.