Will tomorrow be driven by AI on the other end of the Pandemic? 

Will the future be filled with robots and AI even though so many have recently been unemployed?  Covid-19 divided a nation and eliminated jobs.  Will robots make it harder for humans to get re-employed? It’s been guesstimated that by 2025, the balance could change to a 50-50 combination of humans and machines.  

Eliminating Mr Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Disruptive technologies have been around for a long time. Automation creates new technology, builds jobs yet erases physical labor positions.  And now, post Pandemic, employees debate whether to go back to work, collect or quit re-educate or re-train. Still, after years of discussion, economists say people can never be wholly replaced. 

Technology performs mundane tasks faster and cheaper. Forklifts replace warehouse stackers. Voice recognition replaces live operators. Self-checkout limits a need for cashiers. Big business relies on apps capable of filtering through documents to accumulate data. There will be job loose from technology, but new technology creates new and different employment opportunities. 

Economists remain skeptical of forecasting a future where humans aren’t working as a robot can never fully replace human emotion. Many labor-saving inventions let us do more with less, and although automation does displace workers, it doesn’t actually affect total number of jobs. In the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when Mr. Bucket lost his job of capping toothpaste his family faced untold financial concerns.  In the end, he is re-skilled as the maintenance repair man for the very machines that had replaced him. The overall need for human work has not gone away but it questions whether historical advancement is a guide of what is to come.    

What makes automation so attractive? Machines do more with less manual labor, taking on repetitive, high-volume tasks that are dangerous or boring. New generations of robots are more sophisticated. Rapid advances in technology creates algorithms that allow bots and humans to improve production and quality. Robotics will play a prominent role when connected with computer AI learning to enabling faster decisions and improved output.  

Top of FormElon Musk had a dream, but a funny thing happened on the path to full automation…the robots were not up to task. He promised mass production yet delivered less than 10%, suffered record loss, plummeting stocks, missed targets, mass cancellations. Reversing course, he pulled robots off the lines and hired humans to rescue delivery stating “…excessive automation was my mistake…humans were underrated. “ 

“Advances in automation and AI hold the potential to bring about new levels of prosperity humans have never seen. They also hold the potential to disrupt our economies, ruin lives throughout several generations, and, if experts such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are to be believed, destroy humanity.” 

Human versus machine, one must not sacrifice the other. If you have limited experience with technology, robotics or AI, you’re scared of it. Remember the most valuable complex and capable machine in any plant is a person, therefore one should not sacrifice the other. 

Future automations could affect unemployment issues caused by the global Pandemic.  If a robot does what one in six humans do, labored workers will need to up-skill or reskill; teachers and healthcare workers could be replaced; junior positions and elderly employees replaced. Jobs at risk due to repetitive tasks could likely disappear. Technological innovation will not stop, but it has to be monitored and analyzed. 

“…Robots will never…handle tasks requiring high levels of creativity, empathy, persuasion, understanding to apply to a situation…a machine should complement and augment human labor activities, playing a supporting role so humans…focus on higher skilled, higher quality, higher-paid tasks.” International Federation of Robotics, April 2017 

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Oct 2020, U.S. Lost Over 60 Million Jobs—Now Robots, Tech And Artificial Intelligence Will Take Millions More 

Jack Kelly Senior Contributor 

Posted in Our Thoughts.

Sharon Miller-Trackman

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