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Although robots have made a significant impact within the workforce in the past few years, they could soon replace human labor altogether. It’s difficult to believe there would be anything left of the economy if half of the workforce were put out of their jobs suddenly. However, if they were replaced by faster, more efficient robots that will work without a salary, it’s not too hard to imagine companies adopting the machine, especially as robotic technology becomes more and more advanced.
In fact, something similar happened nearly 200 years ago when farmers started being replaced as the industrial revolution began. Today, nearly all farm workers and animals have been replaced in favor of machinery. As the industrial revolution began, farmers traded in fields and open sky for assembly lines and money.
As technology changes and advances within society, more workers are needed to maintain them. However, the amount of workers required and the variety of occupations will only continue to narrow. Before the century comes to a close, 70 percent of workers and occupations will be replaced with automation.
The new wave of robotics and technology is focused on artificial thinking, sensors, emotion, expression, and machine learning. These robots will be able to not only outperform humans in their given occupation, but will have humans essentially catering to them and building on them to make them even more efficient.
With the increase of technology, simple work tasks are easy to imagine being taken over by artificial intelligence. The question is not whether robots will replace human jobs in the workforce, but instead, what jobs will they not replace? Creative works can hardly be crafted by robotic technology, as well as personal, human, emotive connection and communication. Most people know the frustration of speaking with faulty automated machines over the phone when you need something. Although the technological aspects of these types of machines will continue to grow and improve, one can only wonder whether robotics will reach a peak in terms of advancement.
Already, robots have made their way into various occupational fields such as medicine, pharmaceutical, law and retail. Astronauts, surgeons, professional drivers, rescuers, and babysitters could also eventually be replaced altogether or have some type of robotic intervention.
Developers are currently focusing on making robots more like humans so that it is easier for us to respond to and interact with them. They will be able to roll their eyes, wink at you, shake their heads and implement other non-verbal communication in an effort to get us to accept robots as something familiar to us and easy to understand, as opposed to a bunch of wires and programming.
Soon, robots will not only surround us in the workplace, but at home as well. Smart houses are becoming more and more popular. Society is already familiar with technology that can lock your doors for you, turn on the sprinklers, adjust the thermostat and vacuüm your floors. As technology gets more advanced, your home could soon include things like temperature adjustment based on your levels of alertness, lights dimming themselves or brightening in accordance to your mood, and eventually services combining technology, such as using a search engine to look up recipes and the oven starts preheating, in the event you are in the mood to bake.
Although robotic technology has helped advance society as a whole, it is usually hard for people to grasp artificial intelligence itself. The feeling of discomfort and unease we get when robots portray eerily similar but not flawlessly human emotion and expression is called “uncanny valley.” Regardless of this theory, robots will either be replacing all together or becoming a significant part of the human workforce in the near future, whether we like it or not.
By Addi Simmons