With technology advancing faster than ever and robots and other machines becoming a predominant feature in the workplace, should we be afraid that one day we will be let go because a hump of metal can do our job better than us?
Have you ever asked yourself “will robots ever take our jobs?“. Well, it seems that you are safe for now, but that does not mean that you cannot work alongside them thanks to various new ways industries are embracing the idea of robotic companions.
Below are two examples of robots making our lives easier by assisting us rather than replacing us:
Various industries all over the world have created a work environment that is both future-proof and as human as it comes. One example of the latest breakthrough is actually right out of South Africa as on 5 November, Chantelle Gouws become the first person in South Africa to undergo a nephrectomy using Da Vinci Robotic assisted technology.
The operation took place at Netcare’s Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand, Johannesburg. This system consists of a console where the surgeon sits at a console, he then peers into the screen using foot pedals and hand controls to remotely operate the surgical instruments that are attached to the four robotic arms on the other end of the console.
The surgeon then controls the arms using the console and the robotic arms do all the cutting, clamping and everything else on the other end. This allows for precision and flexibility beyond any human’s capabilities. This also allows for the procedures to be minimally invasive, as small incisions are made to reduce external scaring.
The surgery was a huge success that led to the removal of a 4cm tumour situated on the top of her kidney. Dr Conradie, the doctor behind the console, said that:
The success rate of Da Vinci procedures is much higher and recovery time much shorter compared to traditional surgery. The procedure itself is also faster.
Royal Caribbean’s luxury cruise ship Anthem of the Seas has just installed a robot bar that is capable of mixing drinks off a menu. So gone are the days waiting for the barman to count your change. This robot can also mix cocktails in a cocktail mixer, shake them about, and then pouring them into plastic glasses. You can even get it to mix you a random drink if you wanted to. Just watch it in action:
Losing Your Job To A Robot?
If you had to work it out, there is a probability of you losing your job to a robot in the near future, but it all depends on what industry you are in. BBC put together an Automation Risk checker for you to go and enter your job title into, and the results would show you just how safe you are. How accurate this test is? We do not know, but I entered “Journalist” into the box, and there is only an 8% chance of a robot taking over my job. A Telephone Salesperson has the highest risk of losing his/her job, sitting at 99% as this is a job that can be easily automated.
Will this ever happen? Well, according to McKinsey Global Institute, only 45% of activities people are paid to do can be automated with adapting current technologies. This accounts for $2 trillion in annual wages in the USA alone. If technology can achieve another level of human ability, ie the ability to process and understand language, this will increase by another 13%.
Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by either smart software, or robots. Oxford University also suggests that 35% of existing UK jobs are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.
There seems to be a general nervousness surrounding automation in the workplace as many people have the fear that robots or machines will take over their jobs. But FANUC America President Rick Schneider argues that robots actually increase job opportunities for humans by providing them with the tools and resources to become more competitive, with Schneider explaining that people have a misconception in believing robots will take their jobs:
The general premise that I have is that manufacturing is going to go to the locations that have the best manufacturing technology and processes—lean manufacturing, robotics, automation.
It will still be some time before we have to fight a robot for our jobs, and before that even happens, robots will be used to improve our everyday lives rather than leave us unemployed. We also need to take into consideration the feeling behind work. Sure you can put a robot into a factory and make it put cars together, but a robot will not be able to understand the needs of clients and give you valuable feedback in a work place, not yet at least. This is a major advantage that us humans have over robots, and for now we feel that the robots are more of a friend than a foe.