11 Feb Are Robots Taking Our Jobs?
The material handling industry has been a major growth market for new technologies and innovation. With the introduction of automation, robots, and more, it can be frightening to think about the future. Are these robots and other tech going to take our jobs? Will self-driving forklifts eliminate the need for operators? Will data analytics integration, automation, and artificial intelligence replace the need for back office staff? It can be quite apocalyptic to consider.
While many would have us believe that, yes, indeed we are being replaced by robots, that’s not entirely true. Here are three main reasons you don’t need to be worried about unemployment at the hands of robots.
Maybe we personally haven’t seen such a turn in technology as we are seeing right now, but the human race has. In fact, technological advancement is how we define historical time periods.
The most relatable example, perhaps, is the industrial revolution. The invention of tractors and other farm equipment was a frightening thing for the great majority of people, over 80%, who worked in agriculture. All of a sudden, what took days and countless sets of hands to accomplish took hours and only one or two operators.
But, at the exact same time, factories were being built. The economy as a whole changed. Yes, many agricultural workers were replaced on the farm, but new opportunities were made available by the exact same technology that replaced them. Instead of sweating in the heat of day, they were working in assembly lines creating parts for the tractors and tools that took their place in the fields.
It’s been done before, and it will happen again. The advancement in technology reduces certain marketplace needs while simultaneously creating new ones. Every time we see a great technological boom, there is a scare of job replacement. But every time there are still more opportunities available for everyday men and women to work.
And increasingly, those jobs are directed to the unique skills and abilities of the individual.
One thing humans have that robots and artificial intelligence don’t is the ability to think critically, socialize, and be creative in a situation. Robots and AI are built for specific instances and applications. Humans have the ability to adjust and adapt to even the most unexpected of circumstances.
Currently, robots fill the easy-to-do, programmable type repetitive jobs in the market. Rather than being of concern, this is actually an exciting innovation because it allows more time and space for humans to do what we do best – create, think, and innovate.
There’s also the social aspect, too. Sure, there are customer service bots now, but they have to be repeatedly programmed to account for unforeseen situations in digital conversation. They still aren’t made to recreate the human to human experience.
Ultimately, robots and other tech lack the simple aspect of being human. While they are able to perform simple tasks, they cannot come up with new ideas, engage in critical conversation, or think up new ways of looking at the world. These types of job are reserved for the people in the room. And, in fact, robots help us as humans explore deeper parts of ourselves. Instead of being product movers, more people can get their hands dirty in innovation, creativity, and other such work.
Throughout all time, there is one thing we as humans have been consistent in accomplishing – innovation. No matter where we get to, there is something within us that drives us onward. We have yet to reach a place of complacency in tech and thought innovation. There is always more to do and always more to explore.
This makes sense really, because every new innovation requires human support. And wherever there is human support there is the potential for tech to replace the human support. It’s quite cyclical. Idea leads to innovation, innovation leads to idea. Round and round we go all with the mindset of making our lives as humans easier. But not easier so we can become complacent, easier so that we can spend more of our time doing what we are individually best at.
Ultimately, then, robots and AI work for people. Though initially it looks like they are taking jobs, they, at the end of the day, create greater opportunity jobs.
Bloomberg worded it this way:
“Call it the automation paradox: The infusion of artificial intelligence, robotics and big data into the workplace is elevating the demand for people’s ingenuity, to reinvent a process or rapidly solve problems in an emergency.”
Robots and artificial intelligence are effectively challenging the human race to grow and mature and elevate our overall sense of being. They create increased space for us all to do more and do better.
So, sure, a robot may take your place doing that repetitive job, but isn’t that a favor? It’s telling you it’s time to dig in to something deeper, bigger, and perhaps more profound.
If you’re concerned, take a proactive approach and get out there to learn a creative skill, exercise your critical thinking, and look for opportunities outside the area you feel robots may be after.
See a problem? Come up with the solution and strategy to solve it. Don’t be afraid to bring your ideas forward.
Remember that thing you always wanted to do as a kid? Try it, go for it again. Re-explore your options in the world. It’s never to late to go after something new.
Have something you’d like to explore at work? Start a conversation with your boss. Most managers are excited by initiative and courage to try new things in the work place. See if you can get support to explore a new position or new initiative at your current job.
Didn’t finish your degree or have an itch to go after another? Enroll in an online program that you can plug away at on your own time. Bolster your skill sets, and get credentials under your belt. Then use what you’ve learned and that degree to go after the job of your dreams.
There’s nothing robots can take from you if you take control of the situations. In fact, they really have the potential to be your best friend. After all what are friends for except to encourage you to get out there and be your best self, to give you the boost you need to innovate, explore, and grow.
DC Velocity. January 2019. Mitch Macdonald.”Robots Won’t Put You in the Unemployment Line.” Pg 56.