Automation will bring us into a new technological age, but at what cost?
Since the cradle of civilization and possibly even before it, humans had to work monotonous jobs until robotics made its way into the world in 1950, according to the British Department of Industry (DOI). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, workers in the 19th century worried about being one day replaced by automation. These fears were premature but not necessarily wrong, according to Brookings Institution.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) streamlined the workflow process and accelerated the number of workers replaced across several industries, according to Udacity. These jobs ranged from manufacturing to customer service and only got worse when COVID-19 hit the scene in 2020 when the use of automation helped struggling businesses survive the economic shutdowns.
According to Saviom, a provider of futuristic Enterprise Resource Management and Workforce Planning solutions, AI and machines will replace jobs such as:
- Customer service executives: Lack a requirement of high levels of social and intellectual intelligence. FAQs from major companies are already using chatbots.
- Bookkeeping and data entry: AI and ML (Machine Learning) will dominate this space in the future.
- Receptionist: Hotels have auto check-ins, and fast-food restaurants have kiosks where you can place your food order.
- Proofreading: Programs such as Grammarly have hit the scene and use AI assistance, utterly replacing proofreaders.
- Manufacturing and pharmaceutical work
- Pharmaceutical labs: Robots can work together with scientists providing a much safer environment. Scientists will no longer be putting their lives at risk.
- Retail services: Automated services have replaced people who carry out sales, with several merchants focused on self-ordering and payment options.
- Automated services: Have replaced people who carry out the way sales. From several merchants focussing on self-ordering and payment options,
- Courier services: Logistics and supply chain functions are more efficient with drones and robots. They are currently taking over this industry, and aside from the manufacturing industry, the transport sectors will be devastated when robotic automation booms in the future.
- Doctors: Robotic surgeons are already performing critical operations worldwide and are on pace to outright replace doctors. Robotic doctors leave little room for error, are more effective, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Soldiers: Professionals in the military are certain future battlefields will consist of robots who always obey orders without the need for supervision. Robots currently have use for tasks such as surveillance, intelligence, and other jobs. The UK military stated that “autonomous robots could soon form a quarter of the British army by 2030.”
- Taxi and bus drivers: A 98% chance that robots will take over this profession seems doomed for anyone currently employed as automated trucking, taxis, and buses will become more prevalent in our future. According to the Los Angeles Times, self-driving trucks could replace 1.7 million American truckers in the next ten years.
- Market research analysts: Robots with AI provide comprehensive data and are growing in this sector.
- Security Guards: Yelp has a security robot capable of inspecting a building with a high-definition camera, directional mic, and infrared sensor detecting suspicious activity. With an estimated 84% chance that AI will fully automate this profession in the future.
There are 85 million jobs replaced by automation from now, to the year 2025, according to a World Economic Forum report. With every cloud, there is also a silver lining. As a result of the increased use of AI, 97 million jobs will become available. Some jobs are here to stay, but others may not last through the ages. According to Udacity, the future of employment is this:
- AI optimized manufacturing
- Quantum computing
- Preventative health approaches in healthcare
- Robotic retail
- Construction jobs future is in IoT, AI image capturing, and data sets, and this has already begun
- Machine learning and AI expedite decarbonization in carbon-heavy industries
- Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PET) will become mainstream
Humans are prone to making errors, while computers are error-free, according to Udacity. Computers receive instruction sets and then execute the code without a hitch. Jobs that require accuracy, such as data entry, and one typo from human error cause massive problems. Any job that includes copying, pasting, transcribing or type will either be assisted by AI or replaced by AI in the future.
Fatigue plagues humans, and so does boredom, according to Udacity. Because of this, AI makes the perfect replacement for monotonous jobs, where humans often lose focus. Amazon has already replaced humans to an extent. According to CNBC, they have been using robotics since 2012. Over 1 million jobs worldwide have been created since they have been using robotics, this is according to Amazon. Some reasons are efficiency-driven, but others are issues like workplace safety.
Dangerous jobs where injuries and human fatality are a concern, such as mining factor worky and machine assembly, pose risks to humans, according to Udacity. Fumes, falling objects, and extreme temperatures can harm humans. Harm reduction is necessary when it comes to these types of jobs. AI assists not only in the manufacturing aspect but also keeps humans safe.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the coal-mining fatalities numbered 33 per 100,000 workers in 2001-2004 alone. Lung disease, cancer, and other associated risk become mitigated with robots. AI assists in product development, logistics optimization, predictive maintenance, and robotics in what are known as dangerous industries.
Although the starting cost for building, training, and obtaining AI machines is staggering, operation costs negate this expense, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). The Machines only need electricity and maintenance. Hiring real people requires resources to find, train and give them a salary or wage, not to mention benefits.
The downsides of AI, according to Udacity, include:
- Inability to do complex jobs
- Develop a Strategy or critically think through complex scenarios
- In CEOs and business leadership positions where intuition is necessary for the company, AI cannot do
- While AI may assist someone in making a decision, they are not well-suited for making decisions themselves
- A need to be programmed, maintained, and replaced by a human
The future is bleak for some careers, but as a result of the ashes, new opportunities form for those able to pivot, adapt, and capitalize on this new technological age.
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