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Growing benefits of automation

China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-27 07:56

A humanoid robot is displayed at the World Robot Conference held in Beijing, Aug 20, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

Editor's note: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs recently said the overall mechanization rate of the cultivation and harvesting process has exceeded 70 percent, achieving the goal of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) a year in advance. Mechanization has mostly been realized in the production of wheat, rice and corn. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

According to a recent Wuhan University report, machines and robots will replace nearly 5 percent of workers in China in the next five years. The percentage of businesses using robots has risen from about 12 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2017.

Mechanization freeing people is a socioeconomic development reality. Free from heavy and hard work, it will let them enjoy the benefits of science and technology.

In rural areas, such mechanization will help usher in urbanization. Overall, mechanization of agriculture has kept pace with urbanization.

A recent Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report said China's urbanization rate exceeded 60 percent in 2019, which, judging by international standards, means China has transformed from a rural to an urban society. What the country needs now is to build more smart cities.

Although it remains to be seen whether smart cities can help absorb the huge influx of people from rural areas, one thing is clear, big cities have to first address such challenges as food safety, traffic congestion, and water and energy shortages.

The gradual replacement of humans by robots will also help China cope with the declining birthrate. With a dwindling working-age population, many jobs can be taken over by robots. Robots can also care for the elderly.

However, attention should be paid to the ethical dilemma of using robots and the possible harm they could cause to society as a whole.

For example, what should be done if robots harm people? We should be prepared to address such problems.

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