The American Museum of History has a couple of interesting exhibits that seem almost prescient in examining issues that will be central as more robots make their way into the world. The first one I saw examines the 1971 strike by longshoremen on the West Coast. The longshoremen were worried about containerization - the mechanization of the shipping industry and loss of jobs it was going to bring. The exhibit is fascinating, examining the social issues that come with modernization in an industry that was heavily dependent on labor. Robots were at the center of the debate - a cartoon created by the union depicted robots working a ship while two workers looked on puzzled.
The second exhibit examines the role of immigrant workers in the agricultural industry - starting with Chinese immigrant workers in the strawberry farms of Watsonville, California. As the exhibit shows, successive generations of immigrant workers have carried out these jobs. Mechanization has played a big role in the agricultural industry but some tasks are still done by hand by seasonal workers, like the picking of fragile fruit when they ripen. This work is back-breaking and fewer people from the younger generation want to keep doing it. It will be interesting to see how the agriculture industry keeps evolving over the next few years.