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Slave Labor Profits

A New Global Workforce

Written by Jason Stutman
Posted October 16, 2013

If you're easily offended, you may just want to sit this one out...

What I'm about to say will certainly come off as insensitive and controversial to at least of few of our readers at first. However, when put into context, the following statement is surprisingly agreeable.

I'm thankful for slavery. And you should be, too.

Now, if you're feeling a little heated, you can't say I didn't warn you.

But let me explain...

First, let's be clear that this statement in no way supports slavery or attempts to justify it on moral grounds.

Human slavery is absolutely despicable, plain and simple.

However, this fact doesn't negate the massive benefits that we've seen from slave economies over the course of human history.

Whether we like it or not, our entire standard of living today was built on whips and chains.

Many people don't know this, but the slave trade actually set the stage for the global economy as we know it today...

The cities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Bordeaux, for example, were all built to support slave infrastructure. Slavery was essential in making London a global force in commerce, and it played a key role in New York's emergence as the international center of finance. Wall Street firms including JP Morgan Chase, New York Life, and Lehman Brothers all built their fortunes on slavery.

Perhaps most importantly, slavery has contributed to — directly and indirectly — the rise of capitalism, rapid population growth, and European industrialization.

Without slavery, we'd undoubtedly be centuries behind in terms of technological advancement. The truth is the device you're using to read this wouldn't even exist today if it hadn't been for the slave trade.

Of course, none of this justifies the practice of treating humans as property.

It does, however, serve to highlight the economic benefits of a cheap and highly productive labor force.

Prior to the Civil War, the world's highest concentration of millionaires was found along the plantations of the Mississippi banks. This is because slavery offered them reduced operating costs, improved product quality, and increased production output.

If we could just remove morality from the equation, slavery would actually be an ideal system.

Better than Slavery

American companies are now employing a new workforce, one that contains the most dedicated and skilled laborers this world has ever seen. These workers cost as little as 30 cents per hour and will stay on shift close to 24 hours a day. They don't receive paid vacation and they aren't given any benefits whatsoever.

They are also quicker and far more precise than your typical employee. In fact, not even the highest paid athletes and surgeons can match the raw strength and dexterity of these workers.

The best part about all of this is that despite their tireless efforts, this new form of "slavery" is entirely legal.

That's because we're no longer using our own kind to do our dirty work... This time, we're using an army of mindless machines.

If you haven't guessed already, we're talking about robots.

The robotic labor force is advancing at an incredibly rapid pace, and the economic benefits of this will be truly profound.

I'll talk about the growth of the global robotic industry in just a second, but let's first take a quick look at the benefits that robots have to offer.

  • Production: Robots offer faster throughput speed at constant rates. Robots do not need to eat or sleep. They can lift heavy loads without tiring, and they only require occasional maintenance and a power source. These factors significantly increase production and overall efficiency.
  • Safety: Robots can work in hazardous conditions. This saves workers from dangerous tasks and can also reduce operational costs. Robots offer a high level of precision, which means they have fewer accidents. This reduces company liability and worker compensation expenses.
  • ROI: Despite the upfront cost, robots can offer a return on investment in as little as six months. This is primarily due to the reasons listed above, including increased productivity and decreased operational expenses.

Future Outlook

Between 2008 and 2012, global robot sales increased by an average of 9% each year.

According to research from the IFR Statistical Department, this growth rate is expected to continue in North America, Brazil, South Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe over the next several years.

By 2016, the annual global supply of industrial robots alone is expected to reach 190,000 units, which would represent an estimated 6% CAGR.

In terms of specific industries, medical robot sales increased by 20% in 2012 and accounted for 44% of total service robot sales. Defense and military accounted for 40% of service robot sales and benefited from an 8% increase in UAV shipments last year.

By 2016, the service robot industry alone is expected to reach $17.1 billion.

The growth potential in this particular space is absolutely massive, with some sub-divisions expected to increase unit output by nearly 800% over the next three years...

service robot growth

Much of robotic sales growth is concentrated in just a few geographical areas right now. In fact, 70% of global robot sales went to just five counties in 2012.

China is currently the largest installer of industrial robots, and has increased sales by an average of 25 % for the last seven years.

When investing in this space, it's best to focus on these specific areas of growth. This includes both physical location and industries.

During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, fortunes were made in New York, London, and the American South.

Today those fortunes will come from the United States and China.

Those who invested in sugar and cotton benefited greatly from cheap slave labor. The same thing is going to happen with robotics over the next few decades...

This time, however, the money will come from professional services, energy exploration, and industrial manufacturing.

Turning progress to profits,

  JS Sig

Jason Stutman

follow basic @JasonStutman on Twitter

Energy and Capital's tech expert, Jason Stutman has worked as an educator in mathematics, technology, and science... Before joining the Energy and Capital team, Jason served on multiple technology development committees, writing and earning grants in educational and behavioral technologies. Jason offers readers keen insights on prominent tech trends while exposing otherwise unnoticed opportunities.

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