Over the past few years, industry has been buzzing with talk about IIoT, automation replacing workers, and how machine learning and AI are the next big thing. A few weeks ago, IBM held a debate where their ‘Project Debater’ competed against a human professional. While the robot was not deemed the winner, it did showcase the robots’ ability to rapidly respond and pivot argument points based on the other person’s interaction. It was a lively and visual representation of what the future of artificial intelligence will look like. The world is now beginning to realize that AI implementation and mass availability aren’t too far off. For those thinking about the job market in the coming decades, we have to wonder: what future jobs are going to be available for the next generation?
While no one can know for sure, just looking at recent industry changes gives some foresight. A prime example is McDonalds; they’ve been a big provider of part time casual labour jobs. Recently they’ve adopted a self serve kiosk where customers are able to order and pay for themselves. The number of front line staff at the counter has greatly decreased. This is one example where simple and repeatable jobs are being replaced by technology. Does that mean that the restaurant industry will be fully automated – of course not. But it is indicative of the types of jobs that robotics and machines are prime to replace humans. Robots never take breaks, rarely act illogically, and don’t get distracted. This makes them perfect to take over the menial tasks that most humans don’t want to do.
The other side of this argument that many forget to talk about is the robot’s themselves! There is a complete industry in place that designs, builds, and programs these machines. For every single machine out in the field replacing menial tasks, a whole team of people have been involved to teach that robot the tasks it’s performing, design recovery procedures, and test to make sure they’re behaving as expected. Like every other machine, robots are not infallible. A complete service industry of field experts is in place to diagnose and repair these machines should a failure happen.
So while many worry that robots are going to replace workers and steal jobs, I would argue that they in fact are generating a much larger sub industry. Let’s let the robots do the job’s that no one wants to, and put our efforts into learning the complicated task of learning what makes these intricate systems work.
The careers of the future lay, as we’ve always believed, in the robotic and automation industry.