“Machines will take over nearly half of all the work done by humans”, claims an Oxford university research. Another prediction says, “90 percent of the world’s population will soon be jobless owing to the fast development in the field of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, analytics, automation, and robotics.” The panic that robots taking over our jobs is going viral!
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in a recent interview anticipated that, robots will replace a lot of workers and therefore they should be taxed to bring in funds to socially support displaced workers. Some governments across the globe are also working to facilitate the Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme to support people who are distraught by automation. While it’s true that robots are all around us these days, considering them as a threat, is fairly incorrect.
Way back in 1964, Westminster in Colorado got its first automated gas delivering robot. John Roscoe, short stop convenience store owner, bought an electric box that would let a clerk inside the shop activate any of the pumps outside. It was not before the 1970s when self-serve pumps started gaining momentum. Pump makers eventually added automation systems to let customers pay at the pump. By 2000’s, task specific robots took over the gas attendants role in pumps all across.
Automation changed outlook
With self-serve pumps in actions, the cost of overall fuel dropped down because you’re not paying for the gas attendant’s salary. People, in turn, started investing their savings in learning and inculcating various other soft skills and value addition roles.
Also, if statistics are to be believed, in the 1970s, 14 percent of men held four-year college degrees and 8 percent of women in Colorado. However, by 2015, it was up by 32 percent of men and women. So automation, in a way helped to transform a pool of people whose mindset was fast cheap labour jobs to professionally skilled jobs.
While pump attendant jobs went away, new jobs like software coders, engineers, sales staff, and project managers propped up. The pump owners too utilised their savings in building small convenience stores and marts in the pump vicinity. This in turn, employed some others to work as clerks, sales staff, and cashiers in these small shops.
Even today, despite the number of jobs that technology is fast eating over, it is creating better avenues of income as well.
New doors open up with automation
A new study from Redwood Software and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) explored the trends in robotic automation in 23 countries over the past 20 years to quantify their impact on GDP per capita and labour productivity. The analysis revealed that, robotics now adds more value to the economy in comparison to the traditional industries, therefore, fuelling job growth.
Interestingly, history has also shown us that factories that have used automation in their manufacturing or production phases have cut down prices of the overall product, making it more affordable in the market, and increasing demand for more production. While some others generated more profit to pay higher wages, bringing in more employment and quality in production.
Amazon is a brilliant case in point of this phenomena. Over the past few years, the company has invested heavily in automation, from 1400 robots to the present over 45,000 robots working in its warehouses. The new hire rates have also not changed, during the same period of time. But the company has been able to provide unique customer experience all across its business touch points.
Have you heard about brand influencers? US based company Influential One, which partnered with IBM Watson, analyses and understands the integrity that people have with various brands via their social media interactions. The company then connects people and brands to earn money by being “brand influencer”, a new category of job aided by AI understanding.
With automated apps and IoT led devices, taking over our lives, new avenues will surely open up to bring in new dimensions to the workforce. Jobs in various categories like VR/AR personalised entertainment, Nanotechnology, E-marketing, Space Economy, Senior Care, Sharing Economy like AirBnB, Uber, etc., Renewable energies, Coaching, Organic Data Analysis, Chamberlains and Stewards, jobs that demand human contacts like Nurses, Counsellors, Psychologists, etc., Genetic Engineering and more such positions will eventually prop up.
Just being modern Luddites, afraid of losing work and place in a society led by robots is not a good sign. Automation will always bear a symbiotic relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Human Intelligence (HI). Therefore, let’s keep the evolution of human history in mind and keep working towards a brighter future!