Automation: it’s the word that strikes fear in so many workers’ hearts. Machines have always changed the ways that we do work, and have at times completely eliminated certain jobs. Technology makes us more efficient, but some people always suffer in the transition phase of introducing new machines to the workplace.
With robots becoming more and more competent and intelligent, there are more applications for them than ever in a variety of industries. That’s got a lot of people worried that robots are getting ready to take over their jobs. In fact, about 23% of people in one survey believed their jobs would be eliminated in the future and replaced by automation. It’s understandable, of course, to fear that you might become obsolete in the workplace—your ability to earn an income depends on being able to find a job. We must always be aware of how our use of technology will affect us in the future, on both an economic and humanitarian level.
In the debate over robots in the workplace, there’s a lot to think about. Will robots eventually take over most jobs? Is your job really in jeopardy? Let’s take a look.
What Modern Robots Do
Artificial intelligence has advanced immensely in the last few years. Robots can now perform many more tasks than ever before, and they’ve quickly become “smarter”. Even with these advances, however, robots are still mostly used to do repetitive or dangerous jobs that most people don’t want to do.
Almost no one, for example, objects to the use of robots to deal with bomb threats, rather than having a person risk their life to attempt to disarm a bomb. Robots are also helpful for doing jobs that waste human resources and create inefficiencies. This is especially important in industries that have a shortage of skilled workers.
With that said, of course, advancement will continue. Robots will get smarter. And eventually, they will be able to take on even more advanced tasks.
Industries That Use Robots
Today, the industries that use robotics the most include healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation. In these industries, the use of robots and artificial intelligence is expected to add more jobs than these sectors eliminate.
In the healthcare industry, robots are being tested to help fill demand for healthcare workers. About 5,000 nursing robots are currently being tested in Japan, where the aging population has put a strain on the country’s healthcare system. Around 1 in 3 people in Japan are over the age of 65, and the number of elderly people is rising in the US as well. Robots are helping to ease this shortfall of younger workers by taking on tasks like disinfecting equipment, dispensing medications, checking patients’ vital signs, and even assisting in surgery.
In manufacturing, robots are taking over repetitive or dangerous tasks involved in the manufacturing process. Self-driving cars are already taking to the streets, and as the technology improves, even more of these vehicles will begin phasing out the need for drivers.
Humanity’s Value in the Workplace vs. Robots
Although few attempts have been made to prevent phasing out certain jobs, workers can take comfort in one thing: humanity still has immense value in the workplace. Human interactions and communications are still an important component of many jobs, and robots simply can’t fill that role.
Using the example of nursing robots, we can see just where humanity is so important. Clinical integration in healthcare, for example, which is intended to improve and streamline care to be more patient-focused, requires that human caregivers have the time to attend to the needs of their patients. They are better able to do this if a robot is disinfecting their equipment and dispensing medications.
Humans are needed for emotion, communication, and creativity. Robots can support those tasks by performing other duties, but they cannot replace this need.
Adaptivity: A Very Human Asset
In the end, it’s never a good idea to become complacent in your work and life. You might not have to worry about robots taking over your job in the next few years, but it’s not a bad idea to start building your skills with that future in mind. Self-development and the willingness to adapt is hugely helpful regardless of where your life ends up taking you. Some industries, like marketing and other creative fields, will likely be the last to go since these distinctly human qualities are difficult to replicate. Programming and technology skills will also be helpful in the event that robots begin to take over new jobs.
The ability to adapt is humanity’s biggest assets. In a shockingly short period of time, we’ve managed to mold our environment to suit our own needs, and we continue to innovate and refine every year. Instead of worrying about whether or not robots will take your job, prepare yourself to adapt. Because if there’s one thing that never changes, it’s the fact that change is inevitable.