Imagine running a race against a robot, the chances are you will probably lose. They are created and programmed to be stronger, faster and better than humans. Since I can remember, technology has been evolving and although it makes certain things easier, we see a variety of impacts clearly visible in our daily lives and in the workplace.
Automation is not only visible in our surroundings when it comes to our jobs, but some people have robots as pets, as friends and some even marry robots. Older generations may argue that automation is a new phenomenon; but automation has been a common goal in the workplace since the industrial revolution.
In the late 16th century, a British inventor created a knitting machine. In his factory the workers averaged 100 stitches per minute; however with the new machine they averaged 1,000. This process of machines slowly phasing out human labour is common, yet this has not produced a pattern of mass unemployment as one might imagine. This is because when human and machine work together we find that more jobs can actually be created. This was seen in the 1970s when banks began introducing ATMs and made some of the main tasks of a bank teller redundant. Now tellers were able to spend more time selling lucrative financial services rather than dispensing cash and banks were able to open more branches and hire more tellers.
According to Wired.com, for us to better understand how robotic replacement will evolve we need to break the relationship between humans and technology down into four categories:
Jobs today that humans do but machines will eventually do better.
Just think of the knitting machine mentioned earlier. Knitting is still done by humans today. However, machines will eventually, and already are, doing it better and without any irregularities. Decades ago the majority of people lived and worked on farms, but now automation has made most of these jobs redundant by replacing humans with machines. Yet this in turn created more jobs and those who once farmed then found work in factories assembling cars, equipment and other industrial products. While many agricultural and industrial jobs are still done by humans, in time it is likely that we will be replaced by machines as we are not capable of working at the same pace and accuracy when it comes to these often monotonous and precise jobs.
Current jobs that humans can’t do but machines can.
When it comes to precision jobs, robots can do this at a speed no human is capable of. Robots are therefore often used in military or highly dangerous environments. Drones are used in the military to spy on enemies from a distance that no human is capable of. Robots are also sent into active volcanoes to explore and after nuclear disasters robots are the first to investigate the aftermath.
Robot jobs that we can’t even imagine yet.
With the assistance of robots and computerised intelligence, we already can do things we never imagined doing even 50 years ago. Take Uber for example. With your smartphone you can order a car almost instantly without making a call or carrying any physical money on you and track the entire journey from start to finish. This has created thousands of jobs for people all over the world. Social media too has become important in many of our lives and the creation of applications in this purely digital world continues to generate thousands of jobs.
A prime example of a technology philanthropist is Elon Musk. Musk invested $100 million of his own money in Space X and created thousands of jobs in doing so, and will continue to create jobs for humans. Microsoft employs more than a 100,000 employees, this headcount has more than doubled since 2005. Apple employs over 60,000 direct employees and more than 600,000 indirect employees due to the various by-products Apple has created.
Jobs that only humans will be able to do – at first.
Education is something robots are not currently capable of doing. We have search platforms like Google that are loaded with information; however you need to learn the basics of reading, writing and data processing in order to make use of this information. Also, robots cannot interact and relate to people in the same capacity as humans. Teaching requires patience, the human touch and adaptability to cope with the various learning styles, personalities and capabilities of humans. Similarly in healthcare we are seeing machines become more prominent to diagnose or to test us when we visit hospitals and clinics. But often these processes aren’t black and white, and require a human to interpret and decipher them. Robots are only able to ‘think’ in algorithms and not abstractly, hence they require more development in terms of detailed and precise programming to do certain tasks.
As humans we have the capability to learn new things and make decisions without preconceived answers. Robots are only capable of doing the jobs they already ‘know’ because they are programmed to understand the situation. They can’t think outside of the box as a human would. Robots are extremely good in acquiring information and making decisions purely based on information they have been preconditioned to interpret, but they cannot consider foreign data and factor it in to the situation.
We need to learn to work with technology, and not against it. Times are changing and we need to be adaptable. We have learnt from history that although technology will take away some of the jobs we think of as a standard in the present time and leave a certain element of uncertainty. But this technology will also create new unheard of jobs for even more people. Let the robots take over the jobs, and let them help us to generate new, exciting and unheard of roles in return. I for one am excited to see what the future holds for us.
Article written by Ildiko Enslin, IT Banking Recruiter at Cobalt.
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