Will The Rise of Robots Take Over Our Careers?
“Robot is drawn from an old Church Slavonic word, robota, for “servitude,” “forced labor” or “drudgery.”
2017 saw many advances in robot technology, leaving us wondering where it take us – or where we will take it – in the following year ahead. This past year has been particularly high on media coverage for robotic advances, but that doesn’t mean 2017 was the start of this mechanical trend. So, where did it all begin?
One of the first recorded dates of the invention of the robot was in 1977. ‘Arok’, created by Benjamin Skora, was a personal project robot which took six years to build, weighing 5 kilograms at 2 metres tall. Controlled by a TV remote, ‘Arok’ wheeled around in his aluminium shell doing very basic household tasks. Fast forward a couple of years and we reach the creation of robots advancing to do more and act faster, being used for NASA missions and to vacuum-clean floors alike. In the late 1980s, robots were introduced into medicine to aid doctors with minimally invasive surgeries – hardly a touch on how robotic technology is now used, not only in medicine but in our everyday lives.
Everybody will have their own interpretation of what a robot is, whether it be the traditional tin man on wheels or something as common as a kettle, but with all of these technologies getting smarter, there’s one question that’s been sitting in people’s’ minds: Will the rise of robots take over our careers?
Why is this becoming such a rising concern? Well, with all the talk of humanoid robots such as the Russia’s ‘Fedor’, whose creators, early last year, seeked to “improve the android’s fine motor skills and decision-making algorithms” by giving it target practice lessons equipt with a gun, followed by the late 2017 news that their humanoid robot Sophia, (so human it’s a little creepy) was the first to become a ‘robot citizen’, it’s no surprise that people are ever so slightly wavered.
Naturally, this isn’t the easiest of questions to address, and with all great debates, the answers will be subjective. We think, instead of addressing the very indirect question of whether automation technology will take over our jobs, it’s easier to look into how, with the current rise in mind, human jobs will change and/or adapt in the future. The Institute for the Future recently stated that 85% of the jobs in the year 2030 will be new – doesn’t sound too bad, right? However, Yahoo Finance has made the prediction that by 2040, “the workforce may be totally unrecognizable.”
So far, machines have already taken over many human jobs in retail, manufacturing, the food service etc, so we know it’s all too possible that the advances of robots may do the same in the future. But what roles could they actually take? Well, we’ve seen a Russian robot shooting guns, we know that drones are the current ‘big thing’ and we have seen countless examples where robotic devices are aiming to partake in human-interaction. Will they eradicate army roles, policing careers, air traffic controllers or pilots? What about care workers, where human sympathy is an essential requirement to fulfill the role? It seems unlikely that, in cases like social working, robots will ever be able to fully replicate the emotional range that humans who perform these roles are required to have. What if emotions are taken out the picture? Will taxi, lorry and train drivers or even chauffeurs still exist in the future with all the work proceeding on driverless vehicles? Wireless Magazine recently reported on how General Motors have genuine, serious ‘not-just-talk’ plans to create the first car that doesn’t even have pedals or a steering wheel, and they want to achieve this by 2019. Imagine a world where you can’t even control the vehicle you’ve been trained to control your whole life.
Despite there being many – subjectively – negative aspects to the rise of robots, we cannot deny that some job roles overtaken by robots can be justified. Through a mimic of natural selection, inventors are able to build these machines to outshine the work of humans, placing them where human responsible is susceptible to flaws: human error. This has been put into practice for years, for example, the increased use of robotic machinery in hospitals to now not only aid minimal surgeries but life changing ones. Machinery is being placed in humans to replace where organs are failing; defibrillators, pacemakers etc. Many people reckon that robots are best put in place to elongate the lives of humans, placing robots in positions that would otherwise cause chronic health threats or significant distress to humans, such as entering burning or collapsed buildings.
So, do we think the rise of robots will take over our careers? In some cases, yes, in others, undoubtedly not. We believe that, in the future, the rise of robot intelligence will create more human jobs alongside the roles these robots will now occupy – a silver lining to every cloud. Some jobs will be overtaken for the better, and others jobs, we feel, can never be vacated by humans and the empathy we are able to project.