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Trump Carrier Impact: Faster Automation

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President-elect Donald Trump just laid down the law for U.S. companies looking to cut costs by moving manufacturing out of America.

"Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. It's not going to happen,” he said Dec. 1.

Trump was speaking at United Technologies Corp.'s Carrier plant in Indianapolis after cojoling the multi-industrial, multinational company not to move jobs to Mexico, as had been planned. Riffing off the cuff, Trump said consequences would include higher taxes for such companies, and likely an army of government officials, possibly including him, strong-arming companies from moving offshore.

To be fair, Trump also promised that in the future companies will not be tempted to leave because their taxes will be so much better in America, and business conditions will induce them not just to stay but to grow. Whether that comes true remains to be seen as Congress - which is divided in more ways than just by party - will get the final word, but something else is more likely.

The rhetoric about threats and consequences for companies leaving could just speed up the adoption of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and other digitalization of industries, particularly in A&D. If companies are not allowed to exploit labor cost arbitrage elsewhere in the world - and they can find the capitalization to invest in technology - they are likely to double-down on replacing their carbon-based workers with silicon ones.

Maybe this can still happen and because U.S. companies grow so much they will still hire workers. Maybe, but it's doubtful that enough growth can be achieved to offset technology's job-killing nature, especially now that it could accelerated. Also, some companies could just go out of business, as they can't find the means to invest in tech. That is likely to eliminate jobs, too.

Regardless, it will be a major issue I and other reporters will be covering in the future. Check out Aviation Week for more in coming editions.

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