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Robots to displace humans in certain jobs July 26, 2015

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Trends.
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Let’s get this clear right from the start – I am a human writing this article. That can change some day in the future, but for now, a carbon based life form is forming these thoughts and expressing them to you. I enjoy seeing the musings that predict how the labor force will change as robots are being used in more and more job roles. One thing I know for sure is that the rate of change is never as fast as the predictions say they will be.

robot-replacement-robots-replacing-human-workers-factory-33353269I think the definition of what is, and is not, a robot is still a bit elastic. For me, a simple definition is a device using mechanical, electrical and software components that can  perform a series of steps that result in a work product repeatedly with quality similar to, or, exceeds when the same work product is performed by a person. Regular readers know I have mentioned the topic before and I have been paying specific attention to the progress with robots driving cars. That is a change I welcome and hope to see in my lifetime. In the interim, there are jobs that robots are performing already and we will see other jobs that can, and will, be performed increasingly by robots.

I expect one area that robots can be a competitive advantage is in business recovery. Simply stated, using robots ensures the business is always available using redundancy and fail over/recovery tools performed by robots based on triggers set by humans. Relative to the definition used for robot, there are companies that can state they already are doing this. Going forward, I expect this capability will be common place in more and more industries.

At present, here is a NBC News article that lists these 9 jobs robots can do as examples:

  1. Pharmacists
  2. Lawyers and Paralegals
  3. Driver (Can’t wait!)
  4. Astronauts
  5. Store Clerks
  6. Soldiers
  7. Baby Sitters (way distant future)
  8. Rescuers
  9. Sportswriters and reporters

Each of these is plausible where a human could eventually be displaced by a robot. From this list, robots are already working in some of these roles. For other jobs listed, many changes are needed before a robot is capable to do the work. Last, for others, there will be much resistance, consternation, hand wringing and posturing in opposition to robots working in those roles. Also, notice jobs that are absent from this list (teachers, doctors, programmers, managers).

While robots transition into these jobs as well as others, that implies that us carbon based life forms will be working in new jobs. That is a consistent theme from what I have read. The robots will enable us to do new work as we use the results of their labor for our jobs.  Here is another article that begins to describe that effect.

The changes implied in the transition will range from the simple to the complex. In many cases, a one to one direct replacement from carbon life form to silicon based worker is possible. In other jobs, getting work to a point that the steps involved are repeatable (and, consistent) may drive ripple like changes to other jobs. The resulting changes required will happen with more and more frequency and in jobs that we do not anticipate at this time.

How will you prepare for this change? What impact will that have on your job? How can you use robots for your business?

Comments invited and the next update on this topic may, or may not be, written by a human.

 

Ramblings on robots February 3, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Cloud Computing, Project Management.
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5 comments

The topic of robots and automating work via machines has gotten a bit of ink lately. In the last month, I have read several articles on how robots will replace humans. Perhaps you’ve seen them also. The premise, or promise, is that machines will replace many of the tasks currently done by humans. A recent issue of Wired has robots as their cover story titled Better Than Human. The question is not if, but more of when, robots will replace people for many of the jobs that exist today. The major assumption is that it will create new jobs for us carbon-based life forms. The impact with machines used instead of people to perform a task is also connected to big data and cloud computing.

robot work force

Robots will replace humans in many jobs.

The concept is not new, of course. It can be argued that machine automation started with the Industrial Revolution as machines performed what humans did previously. Benefits in use of machines include consistent, repeatable actions, improved forecast of turns (i.e. – throughput), working with known capacity, higher quality, less waste and more accurate delivery. Having the machines in place provide humans to focus on other aspects of running a business.

From an economic and budget perspective, we know that the human element is the highest cost in any process. As Moore’s Law still works, the cost to use machines make more budgetary sense. This type of disruptive change will bring uncertainty, fear and confusion initially. At least, to us humans. To the machines it would be a non event and they might just say “meh”.

Any speculation I have at this point would be just that, speculation on how this will play out. However, I do look forward to what new jobs will be created by robots. Having a bot take over what I do now would be great. When that happens, I will then be able to define a process or sequence of operations for one or more bots, aligning those resources to perform that work I have assigned to them. No feedback, no personal issues, no drama, just predicatbel result. I won’t have to schedule meetings, take and distribute notes or ask them for critique of my performance either. Hmm, this could be a really good thing. My future job description may include more think time to improve/define innovation.

When will this happen again? When it does, will you be ready?