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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Robots: The double-edged sword of taking jobs and creating jobs

by Laurie967 (writer), , November 30, 2019

Robots are here to stay. For some of us, a rude awakening, and for some, we have come to terms with its existence. However, what we must keep in mind is this: It has its advantages and disadvantages. So, before we join the bandwagon of critics who only see its dark side and negativity, let us take a step back to see its immense benefits. Robotics and AI have evolved.

It has gone beyond the Roomba that helps clean your floor or Siri, suggesting where you can find the best Italian diners in your neighborhood. Now, Robots are making coffee. The best part, we now have self- driven car technology.

Robots: The journey so far

A study done by Oxford University in 2013 indicated that robots would take over half of the jobs in America by the year 2040.

Three major sectors are most vulnerable, according to the study. They are Transportation, Logistics, and Administrative Jobs. Experts suggest positions such as educators, skilled workers, and travel agents are so vulnerable in the long run.

With the possibility of jobs disappearing, economists posit the likelihood of a future without jobs. Their postulations and assumptions of such a future are rooted in two setups. These setups are dystopia and utopia. Dystopia represents a future without jobs, increased social inequality, and a chaotic society. On the other hand, utopia represents a future of social equality, peace, and wealth.

What if we tear apart this script of negativity surrounding robots and appraise the situation with an eye of positivity?

Why? Because history tells us otherwise. When it comes to the technological revolution, history tells us it is not all dark and gloomy. There is always a ray of sunshine. Let's find out.

Memory Lane: The History of Technology

In our era, technology is growing at an exponential rate. However, such rapid growth in technology is not unique to our time alone. It has always been like that. From the development of wheels to the printing press, technological innovation is part of human history. So also has the conversation of how technological change will affect human employment has been part of human history.

For every technological revolution, new jobs and markets are created. For instance, the development of the printing press led to the bulk creation of books. This precipitated the process of transportation and marketing. Printing shops were born, and newspapers came into existence.

The printing press signaled the end of scribes. But from the ashes of the scribes, new jobs came to life to take over from them.

The Agriculture and textile industry is another notable example. Over 70 percent of Americans worked on farms in the 1800s. In 2019, less than 3 percent are. The technological revolution in agriculture made it better, easier, and faster. It continues to make it better and easier until today.

In the same vein, the textile industry experienced the same revolution. The introduction of machines, such as power looms and automated equipment, changed the industry. It reduced labor, reduced human accidents, and made it more efficient.

Our past has the blueprint of our future. No doubt, robots will take away jobs from humans. The impact on the labor force will be massive. But what history tells us is this: the coming of robots will lead to the creation of a new set of jobs. Contrary to popular opinions which say jobs will be taken away, jobs will always be available.

The American workforce over the past three hundred years is a notable example of how dynamic, creative, and flexible humans are.

The future: What it holds for us

One thing we know for sure: Jobs will be available in the future. Where will these jobs come from?

These jobs will emanate from the strengths of humans and the weaknesses of robots.

Robots cannot negotiate, motivate, and influence. Most importantly, they lack innovation. This suggests jobs needing social skills, innovation, and emotional intelligence will be available for humans. It means musicians, nurses, and entrepreneurs will still be humans.

Robots cannot eradicate the importance of on-site human expertise to instruct, maintain, and repair them. Robots will malfunction, need an OS update and changing of body parts. All these can only be done by a human expert.

This indicates that the more we need robots to automate our workflow, the more individuals capable of maintaining, updating, and fixing them becomes paramount.

These chains of events are already in manifestation. IT departments came into existence because of this technological revolution. This created Job titles such as software engineer, Cybersecurity expert, and Data scientist that did not exist 50 years ago.

Technology didn't just give us a new department within companies; it also gave us new companies, businesses, and industries. The existence of robots signifies how paramount technical skills will be. Someone will be needed to manage them. Someone will always be required to fix a self-driven car.

New jobs are shaping up in the STEM (Science, technology, and mathematics) fields. Nanotechnology and robotics are notable examples. A research conducted in 2011 discovered that over one million robots led to the creation of about four million jobs. Out of the six countries surveyed, five saw a drastic decline in unemployment rates as more robots were utilized.

Research indicates that job creation will go beyond STEM fields. Six industries have been identified to receive a significant boost in employment thanks to the introduction of robots. They include automobile, electronics, renewable energy, robotics, skilled administrative workers, and food and beverage industries.

So, there are ample jobs to go around for everyone. You don't need to be scared if you are not a science geek. There is no need to panic as robots become part of our workplace and our society. Accepting the inevitable is a good place to start. Coming to terms with the benefits of robotics makes the process of acceptance easier. I can’t wait for a day robots contribute to job growth across the world and ultimately, humans and robots co-exist.



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