Whereas at one time the idea of robots taking over from humans was the stuff of science fiction, today it’s becoming closer to reality with every year that goes by. With the rise of smart homes and voice technology, innovations are starting to becoming commonplace in ordinary peoples’ homes that are one step away from replacing the need for humans. After all, will we really need a PA when we have Alexa to do the job for us?
Although many of the latest innovations have been aimed squared at the domestic market, some of the smart technology that is currently under development looks set to change tomorrow’s job market drastically, and while it is likely to provide enormous cost savings and benefits for both large and small businesses, they could mean that many people in previously safe occupations will be put out of work.
The Amazon Echo is already acting as a PA in the home, however it is likely that Alexa will soon be transitioning into the workplace to replace traditional office staff. By offering the ability to digitally manage workloads, schedule meetings and book travel arrangements with only a single voice command, Alexa has the potential to put human secretaries out of work.
Airports provide work for hundreds of people around the globe, however with the invention of LG’s Airport Robots some of those unlucky staff look set to join the ranks of the unemployed within the next few years. The Cleaning Robot and Airport Guide Robot could replace human cleaners and customer service staff and there are rumours afoot that London’s new Heathrow terminal which is set to be built by the year 2025 could possibly be the first ever automated airport. Should the Airport Robot prove successful, travellers will enjoy a stress-free and seamless experience but will miss out on human interactions.
People who are currently working in dangerous occupations could possibly lose their jobs in the future as rescue robots are developed that can perform similar functions but without putting human lives at risk. Experts are working on the concept of developing intelligent ATRs (all terrain robots) which can go out in severe weather and in harsh conditions when ground teams would be unable to carry out searches to find people who are missing. With cameras, heat sensors, sonar and motion detectors, these robots may even be able to move obstacles to rescue those in peril.
Robot developers are becoming increasingly aware that while the concept of robots in the workplace may hold some appeal, especially to business owners, those who come into contact with them are unlikely to be impressed. In the end, a robot is unlikely to ever be able to replace a human in a customer service role unless drastic steps are taken to make them more lifelike. This is why robotic engineers have started to design the latest generation of humanoid-style robots which not only act more like humans but also feel more like them too with realistic skin and hair and with sensors embedded into their structure to enable to the react more naturally within their environment. They are working on developing artificial eyes which can blink and move, chest movements to simulate breathing and changing facial expressions for greater social acceptability. It is thought that by making robots able to sense touch and to react to contact with humans in a more lifelike way will make them more appealing to us and more willing to accept them into our lives.
Although it may sound like a fantasy, robots are almost certainly on their way to the workplace in some form or another, and for those who work in jobs such as car assembly where robotic arms are already being introduced, it may not be long before they have to find new employment.