A tweet about a robot security guard that fell, under suspicious circumstances, into a fountain in the company’s lobby set off a Twitterstorm. Yes, it’s amusing, but such situations happen more often than you might think.
Starship Technologies, a US courier company, recently complained that people keep kicking their robots as they are riding down the streets delivering parcels. According to research carried out by De Montfort University in Leicester, such tensions between people and robots exist because employers do not explain why they are using robots.
Concerns about the widespread displacement of workers by machines are not unfounded. Robots are more productive, do not get tired and can work round the clock. However, it is also worth noting that over the last century, technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed.
It is still difficult to say how many jobs will be created over the next few years. It is extremely difficult to give any kind of reliable prediction, because a lot depends on technologies that do not exist at present, or are still in the development phase. For example, 30 per cent of the current jobs in the United States were created over the last 25 years. In fact, it is easier to determine which tasks will be affected by automation than it is to predict which jobs will be created in the coming years.
Robots will take over our tasks
Technologies not only create or destroy jobs, but also shape the way we perform them. Automation causes fundamental changes by adding new tasks or modifying existing ones. It also requires employees to be ready to learn.
According to Eurostat data, 21 per cent of people working with computers or computerized equipment find that their tasks change after a software update or equipment upgrade. Given current trends in employment, the labor market will demand more and more from us over the next 10 years. Higher education, strong interpersonal skills, critical thinking, but also at least a basic knowledge of technology will be ever more crucial. While the demand for employees with lower qualifications (cleaners, cooks etc.) may increase, we will find that jobs requiring qualified manual tasks will become less desirable.