Running a business is expensive, and employee wages are usually a huge fraction of total costs (see Figure 1).
However, these jobs can’t always be eliminated: many jobs still REQUIRE a human employee, and jobs that require an on-site presence can’t be outsourced.
Some jobs require an on-site presence and are difficult to outsource, but perhaps we just weren’t thinking hard enough!
In this proposal, a difficult-to-automate on-site task can still be solved by a human operator, except the operator is living far away (in a cheaper cost-of-living country).
The remote operator then performs the difficult-to-automate task using a virtual reality interface (Figure 2) that controls an on-site robot*.
[*] More properly, but verbosely, referred to as a “remote manipulator.”
Now you can fire all your local employees and replace them with remotely-operated robot arms operated by underpaid foreign laborers.
PROS: Reduces operation costs for your company. The employees can retrain and… go do whatever jobs are left for humans, like writing operas.
CON #1: Maybe it shouldn’t be called a “robot” since it’s not autonomous? Apparently you can call this system a “remote manipulator” or “waldo” or “telefactor,” but those haven’t really entered the popular lexicon (yet).
CON #2: You might say “hey, if these robots are operated by citizens of a foreign nation and replace all the industrial capacity of my own country, what prevents that country from just deciding, one day, to take all the robots over, seizing my factory in some sort of cyberpunk-flavored Russian Revolution?” Unfortunately, the solution to that is rather long, and there is insufficient space to write it here.
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