At one point in time, robots were confined to the very margins of manufacturing, doing jobs which required no finesse or controlled movements. Now, our improvements to all kinds of systems, including motion systems, means that robots can be used in an ever-increasing number of jobs, because their capabilities continue to grow. Rather than simply having robots do these low-maintenance jobs, imagine having them able to complete complex tasks within the workspace, and use that information to trouble-shoot for the future. Our technology is moving towards being able to do these things.
The role of technology, for a long time, has been to enable people to do their work more effectively and more quickly, hence their moniker of ‘labour-saving devices’. Now that same technology is working towards making robots more efficient in all the various tasks to which we put them. This is working so well that we can now predict (to a greater or lesser extent) how robotics will continue to take over some of the tasks in the workplace on a day-to-day basis.
How Things could Change
How will things change, with the ever-increasing ability of robots? Nobody is entirely sure, with opinions ranging from the changes meaning that no human will ever need to work again, to people who think that robots will only ever supplement humans in their jobs, rather than replacing them entirely.
Robots have already replaced humans in a number of fields, especially those which involve manufacturing. This switch happened because robots have a number of advantages over humans in that area – they are faster, can continue for longer with no dip in accuracy or speed, and are able to complete complex tasks while in environments which no human could tolerate for very long.
Robots are here to stay, there is no doubt about that. The current debates centre around how much we are willing to see things changing, and whether or not those changes will be for the better. How the changes make things different is something which directly pertains to us, and how we handle the situation we are in now, where robots have been proven to be capable of so much.
Jobs for Robots
To a greater or lesser extent, this has already happened –robots have been found to be uniquely suited for assembly lines, now that we have sorted out the technology which enables us to create the robots we have now. Looking at the list of linear actuator manufacturers should show that there are huge numbers of people working to make robots better than they were before, and working on giving them the delicacy, accuracy, and speed needed for the types of jobs which come on a typical assembly line.
One of the jobs suggested as possible for robots in the future is that of a pharmacist. We know from their work on assembly lines that roots can be capable of greater accuracy and focus over a longer time-span than any human is capable of. Pharmaceuticals are something which require great delicacy and attention to detail, and since most medicines need to be adjusted to meet somebody’s individual needs, the possibility for error is huge. A robot would be able to eliminate that possibility, and create medicines with a high degree of accuracy for everyone.
This is a controversial field, to be sure, but many people are suggesting that robots could be used as soldiers instead of humans. Because robots are stronger and faster than humans, they could be used to fight wars and limit casualties of all kinds, civilian as well as military. Their programming means that they could be limited in what they could do, which will in turn limit the ability that now exists to hurt people other than the intended target. Robots represent a new way of making war, as we are beginning to see with drones.
There is potential for robots to be babysitters and child carers in the future, for a number of reasons. We are already developing technology which allows AIs to interact with children on their level, with the ability to change and adapt to the children in question growing up. A robot can combine caring for children with actively teaching somewhat more effectively than a human can, because there is no possibility of the robot being distracted from its job by anything else.
Robots in the workplace will definitely change a lot, because they are both cheaper to run in place of humans, and more efficient. However, there are many claims against this, and it is unlikely that robots will ever fully displace human employees in the workforce. It is undeniable that change is coming, however; manufacturing is just the beginning. If we continue to develop robotic technologies to their fullest extent, we will see the changes coming, and we will need to adapt to them, and the world which is created because of them.