There’s a video going around right now called Humans Need Not Apply. It’s by CGP Grey, and it’s about the rise in automation and how that’s going to continue to impact the availability of human jobs.
When I was a kid, my Dad asked me to guess what the most expensive part of running his print shop was. I looked around the warehouse, thought for a few seconds, and decided that the heating bill was probably the worst of it. Dad laughed, and told me that staffing costs were actually the most expensive part of running almost any company.
Humans are amazingly expensive. Salary is just the start. It costs money to train them, keep them comfortable, keep them motivated, keep them from moving across the street to your competitors office, etc.
‘Cheaper and with less staff’ is just a way of saying ‘cheaper and much cheaper’ in a way that resonates with business owners. Of course businesses are going to trend towards using more automation.
There’s always going to be a business that’s willing to reduce staff costs and pay a (lower) equipment cost, and that business is going to be the cheapest one on the market. In the same way that Walmart drives local businesses to lower prices, automation is going to make it impossible to compete unless you’re willing to go along with it.