Will you be affected?
Here, rise of the robots refers not to the malicious uprising of intelligently superior machines (Terminators) but instead to the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks.
Previously, only manual labour was considered to be at risk of automation as more and more workers feared being replaced by mechanical robots (probably because this is what history has shown us).
However, as robotics and artificial intelligence both make advancements, the more cognitive jobs are also put at risk.
When referring to the automation of jobs, it is generally assumed that human labour will be replaced entirely by machines and that there will be no need for human workers.
Fortunately, this is very unlikely to be the case.
How will you be affected?
For the majority of jobs, not all tasks will be automated, instead, specific and routine tasks will be made quicker and cheaper, increasing their output.
Of course, this in turn will increase the demand for tasks which have not been automated resulting in an increased demand for human labour where human thought and touch can bring greatest benefits.
Robotics and AI are both very effective at automating routine tasks that follow a structured plan such as: archiving data, processing orders, creating documents and much more. Whereas when it comes to non-routine tasks, which tend to be more cognitive, they struggle.
On a larger scale, the repetitive aspects of jobs are most likely to be replaced, allowing human labour to be more focused on the non-routine aspects. This makes for much more interesting and engaging jobs, that will require a new set of skills.
For example, when ATM’s where introduced in the USA the average number of bank tellers per branch fell from 20 (1998) to 13 (2004). However, this decrease in the cost of running individual branches caused an increase in the overall quantity of branches as the demand for them increased.
Why you shouldn’t worry
Many people are worried that the development of robotics and AI is happening too quickly. Also, as they have an impact on almost the entire job market, the effects of their introduction will be very fast and hard hitting, making it difficult for people to keep pace with the new technology.
However, the speed of the development of robotics is almost completely independent of how quickly it will be implemented into companies.
As robotics and AI gain more traction in the global market, a multitude of regulations will (no doubt) be put in place governing how they can be implemented into businesses.
Also, most if not all forms of robotics require at least some level of human interaction and therefore people will have to learn the new skills to use them. This means that businesses are much more likely to slowly phase the use of robotics in, instead of jumping into the deep end straight away.
How will this affect the future job market?
In the short run there may be some job losses, however in the long run, the expansion in productivity and output, along with the potential creation of entirely new job markets will, overall, increase the amount of jobs, as previous technological advancements have done so in the past.
Many jobs directly connected to robotics will be created as people will be required to monitor and potentially operate them, along with actually creating and coding any robotic systems.
However, there will also be the creation of entirely new types of jobs, that at this stage can’t be anticipated, especially concerning the advancement of artificial intelligence.
It is therefore, imperative that the government and businesses alike support and subsidise the training of workers so that they are better suited to handling the implementation of robotics.
This will increase the effectiveness of introducing robotics and AI into the workplace by making the transition much smoother and reducing any potential complications.
When it comes to tasks requiring even simple logic or creativity, robotics still falls short as it is very hard to replicate these attributes outside of the human brain. This limitation is one that may never be overcome as we are still discovering how vastly complex our brains truly are.
The rise of the robots will not result in replacement but instead, collaboration.
Callum Hoysted is a student who worked as an intern at ITESOFT in the marketing department for a week.