Rise of the Robots
15 January 2020
I don’t know about you guys, but the idea of robots playing a big part in our lives, such as serving at restaurants and performing operations, freaks me out a little. Despite how strange this may seem; it may be the reality sooner than we think.
According to Exford Economics, by 2030 up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots. Within this article, I am going to explain how robotics are slowing creeping into the manufacturing sector and taking over many industry jobs.
It was only a few years ago when I was at a tradeshow and was served a drink by a robot that I thought: “is this really what bars will be like soon?” The robot itself caught a lot of attention and proved very popular with customers and social media (including mine!). The robot was designed to select the correct juices, stir the drink with ice and serve it in an attractive manner. As robots serving drinks is rare, the concept seemed special and unique. However, the way technology is improving, it may just be the norm in a few years to come.
In the grand scheme of things, robots are likely more efficient and cost effective whilst performing human jobs which is good for business. However, there are many serious downsides. According to Oxford Economics, about 8.5 of the global manufacturing sectors could be replaced by robots.
How robots are already taking over
Self-driving cars are a huge hit with the likes of Mercedes, Tesla and Audi. According to tech world, Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler has teamed up with arch-rival BMW to develop self-driving car technology. Daimler previously announced that it aims to launch driverless robot taxis in the early 2020s. The company has licences to test its self-driving vehicles on public roads in Germany, the USA and China, where it is the first foreign company granting permission to test its autonomous cars. This may lower employment demand for lorry drivers, bus drivers and taxis. The autonomous vehicle market will grow from $54.23 billion in 2019 to $556.67 billion in 2026, according to Allied Market Research. Other job sectors that have been in low demand due to the latest technology would be ticket wardens. Many train stations nowadays have machines that dispense tickets rather than employing someone. This is also found in airports. Many check-in points are employee-less and are operated solely by machines. According to wired.com, Amazon employs more than 100,000 robots in its US warehouses, alongside more than 125,000 human workers. However, as robotics and software become smarter and more adaptable, many more workers will be displaced.
Robots are also very positive for organisations and individuals. Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the medical sector has proven successful and reliable. According to Sky News, AI is better than expert radiologists at spotting breast cancer. This results in fewer mistakes made my radiologists and more accurate results for patients. The study found that an AI system developed by Google Health can identify cancer in breast screening mammograms with fewer false positives and fewer false negatives than radiologists.
Robotics are also very successful within the automotive industry. Many drivers rely on park assist and self-driving features. Without AI/robotics giving a helping hand when it comes to driving, I believe that many drivers could struggle to park in more congested areas.
How do we expect the world of robotics to be in 5 years’ time?
Within the next five years, AI is expected to change the electronics industry to become more smart, efficient and reliable. There will be high employer demand for AI positions such as learning engineer, electronic designer and data scientist. As AI is the ability of a software to think and learn like humans, we can expect many up and coming robotics to be functioned to do the job of a human’s ability. Within the next five years, robotics will be a regular part of our everyday lives – whether we realise it or not. For example, most shops will only accept payments via a card machine (robotic source), public transport tickets will be accepted and distributed by a robot, most bookings of appointments will be completed online rather than via human contact and the ordering of food will mostly be completed by robots (large food chains such as McDonalds are already doing so!).
Should we be worried about the robotics industry evolving?
The answer to this, in my opinion, would be yes and no. Some positives of robotics slowly ‘taking over’ would be a shorter working week. A four-day working week could come into play for many organisations as robotics would be able to carry a higher percentage of the workload. For businesses, this means less money is spent on wages and for employees this means more ‘you time’! Another positive would be new job opportunities – yes, you read that right. The World Economic Forum has predicted that the rise of AI will result in net job creation. There will be a higher demand for emotionally intuitive and creative tasks which robotics are currently unable to do. Despite many jobs being lost, there will be a high demand for humans to guide and supervise the robots.
However, some negatives of the robotics industry evolving would be potential danger to human life. In 2016, a driver was killed when the sensors of a car driving in autopilot failed to detect a truck. In 2018, an autonomous car killed a pedestrian in Arizona, USA. This doesn’t mean there will be an ‘I, Robot’ style uprising but it is evidence that AI isn’t quite ready for some sectors. On the other side, there are plenty of products on the market controlled by AI, such as Siri and Alexa, that are already improving everyday life for many people.
How can I prevent the potential rise of robots affecting me?
If you are working within the educational sector (teaching etc) then it is almost impossible that a robot will be able to replace you. Creative professions such as artists, writers, those in the entertainment business or therapists that require a human touch are expected to be safe. Commercial roles such as sales and marketing, physical and mental healthcare roles such as doctors & therapists, and most tradesman will most likely never be replaced by robotics due to the complexity of the role and natural instincts which AI may not be able to pursue. There is no right way that you can potentially avoid robotics taking over our jobs – but doing things such as prioritising applying for creative jobs and avoiding production lines will help!
Amy has been working within the electronics industry for over three years. After a few months, she was promoted to the Marketing Manager of eBOM.com. She enjoys keeping up to date with the latest marketing trends and creating exciting new articles based on news within the industry!’