People cost a lot. Companies often have to hire people to get things made and sold, but they feel fewer the better.

Employees must be treated like people, with respect and support. That means recognition of their needs — including reasonable pay, appropriate working hours, consideration of health on and off the work site, etc.

From the view of large companies, it is clear that work done without the extra considerations of personnel can be cheaper and easier to manage.

If you trap workers by making other employment for them difficult, illegal or impossible, pay and decent conditions can be reduced. One way of doing this is by hiring those living in the country illegally so that they are docile in the face of deportation threats. Another common savings arrangement is having work done in a country that pays less in wages — in another jurisdiction working conditions are not a direct responsibility. Women might still be hirable at lower salaries than men. Or, most of all is reducing or eliminating people by having the work done by robots.

Machines could also be used to force customers to do some of the work themselves. Many people enjoy being independent of service personnel. With a device to do the shopping one can avoid contact with anybody else at a store. Or one can stay at home, ordering products by internet. Dealing with companies to change or cease service can be done by typing at a computer or speaking to a voice robot by telephone. It is old-fashioned and retro to like dealing with persons.

Some people have to be hired to help other people. Taking care of the sick and elderly demands personnel and is therefore very expensive. It’s hard to imagine how that work could be made robotic. Professional health and social services seem to demand the work of real people but even surgeons can use time-saving machines.

If all this really reduces the human workforce, fewer people will be employed and paid. That means they will have less money to spend and might even need financial assistance from government or charities. It will be clear eventually that we need fewer workers in the world to maintain a high standard of living for some of us.

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