The degree to which robots will take our jobs will largely depend on whether robots can effectively substitute or augment our work.
There are various scenarios at play here that will determine whether robots will take over our jobs:
1. We allow robots to voluntarily substitute our jobs because we are no longer prepared to do the work ourselves. In fact, we are happy for robots to take over our jobs. Examples include military service, car production and manufacturing, space exploration, underwater exploration, duct cleaning, crime fighting, fixing oil spills, investigating hazardous environments, and commercialized agriculture.
2. Robots can be more efficient and effective than humans in doing manual, repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. As such, we are involuntarily substituted by robots even when we are still able to work in our jobs. Examples include truck driving, parcel delivery, inventory stocking, and floor cleaning.
3. Robots can be deployed in industries where there are acute labor shortages. There’s no choice but for robots to perform jobs that we don’t have enough qualified people to do the work. This problem will grow exponentially when larger numbers of Baby Boomers retire over the next decade or two. Robots will fill jobs that this generation is abandoning.
4. Robots are deployed in industries where labor cost pressures will dictate the decision to automate. If labor becomes too expensive, then organizations will have no choice but to use lower-cost robots to substitute human labor.
5. We co-develop robots with developers that will augment our work and free us up to do higher value work. This includes decision-making, conceptualizing and analyzing. Instead, robots will co-exist with us in workplaces and transform our jobs into new ones.
6. Robots will not take over our jobs because we cannot teach or program machines effectively to analyze or conceptualize things, be creative and innovative, and be interactive with humans naturally. These are human tasks that cannot be done by robots, yet. Robots cannot look you in the eye, consider peoples’ feelings, moods and behaviors, feel emotional, empathy and sympathy, make a person feel taken care of or loved, establish trust and respect, be an independent critical thinker, and make sense of complicated concepts and the complicated world we live in.
7. We can learn and acquire new skills and change our jobs well before robots take over our jobs. By anticipating these changes and future-proofing our jobs early, we can be future-ready ourselves when robots do eventually come and appear at our door-step. What’s important is to have the skills that can fill an employment vacancy and remain employable.
Let’s stop and think about this for a minute.
Millennials and Gen Z’ers are already changing the job market. They are more motivated by purpose than a paycheck.
Businesses can’t simply throw money at them particularly if they are trying to control costs and maintain profitability levels. It’s no surprise that industries like hospitality, retail and consumer-products are now facing a significant strain in recruiting.
To solve this problem, many countries like the U.S. and Japan are turning to robots to fill many jobs when labor supply falls short. It’s a matter of supply and demand of labor.
Simply put, robots will perform many jobs that people don’t want to do for various reasons. There’s no choice but to rely on robots to replace our jobs.
We voluntary allow robots to replace our jobs.
I can relate to this with my own children. Asking them to clean or mop the floor, or just sweeping the garden can end up in the war of words and regrets later on.
I wish I had a domestic robot to do all these chores!
Let’s take some industry examples.
There’s a growing shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. The trucking industry needs to find and hire over 900,000 new drivers to meet increasing demand. It’s a goal that seems increasingly unachievable given how younger workers are approaching their careers.