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Can Machines Replace Humans in the Future of Work?

On07/ 02 /19
We live in amazing times. With driverless cars, instant deliveries via drones and online chatbots taking our takeaway orders on Friday night, robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered devices are even predicted to take over the world one day.

But although this statement is very much up for debate, companies around the world are already deploying this technology to make our lives and jobs easier by, for example, automating transport or designing robots to perform tasks, such as bomb defusing, that are too dangerous for ordinary humans. And while this is great that the robots are starting to think and behave like real humans, there is one fundamental question everyone seems to ask themselves – can robots be improved to a level at which they can replace human workers at all jobs?

With the national ‘#LoveYourRobotDay’ happening today, we investigate if the on-going AI revolution could realistically impact the next generation of people in the  HR industry.  

The history of robots

To understand why everyone is so obsessed with AI and automation, let’s start off by learning how and why robots were actually invented.

The history of robotics starts with the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s ideas about automated tools. As time passed, inventors from around the world have been scratching their heads wondering whether automation can really be achieved. Eventually, they came up with the concept of control technology, the mathematical theory that began in the 18th century, and advanced rapidly in the 20th.  

In 1954, the very first commercial and programmable robot called the Unimate was designed by George Devol - an American inventor.

The Unimate was made of two joined computer-like boxes connected to an arm, with systematic tasks stored in a drum memory. It was responsible for advanced, and often dangerous for a human worker, material handling in industrial production. The patent was eventually sold to General Motors in 1961 and was soon followed by a growing demand for the production of more AI-powered workers to carry out the majority of dangerous and industrial jobs.

Robots in the workplace - the benefits

The public opinion about employing robots in the workplace is very divided, but the truth is robots are much needed in many rapidly changing industries such as telecommunication, packing & shipping and customer service.  

This statement is especially true for industries that require their staff to perform routine and predictable tasks, where performance can be significantly boosted by employing robots to carry out the majority of those jobs.

Deploying AI technology can also bring a significant return on investment, as technology-powered ‘staff’ can perform many factory production tasks far faster than their human counterparts, and with greater quality and precision. The realised cost savings can be significant too as robots don’t need an expensive healthcare plan or pension, which makes them a very profitable asset to any rapidly-growing business.

Can a robot take your job?

A recent study from brought to light nine jobs that are the most likely to be taken over by robots in the very near future:

Telemarketer - 99% chance of automation
Loan Officer - 98% chance of automation
Credit Analyst – 98% chance of automation
Cashier – 97% chance of automation
Line Cook – 96% chance of automation
Paralegal – 95% chance of automation
Accountant – 94% chance of automation
Roofer – 90% chance of automation
Bus Driver – 89% chance of automation

In contrast, a report released by Oxford University revealed 22 jobs that have a 0.4% chance or less of being automated:

Recreational Therapists
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers
Emergency Management Directors
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Occupational Therapists
Orthotists and Prosthetists
Healthcare Social Workers
Occupational Therapists
First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Lodging Managers
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Sales Engineers
Instructional Coordinators
Physicians and Surgeons
Elementary School Teachers
General Dentists
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives

How to prepare for job automation?

If you are feeling worried because you found that your job is likely to be automated, worry not – it will be a long process before the technology gets advanced enough for robots to be able to carry out any job error-free.

While we wait, a perfect opportunity presents itself for you to grow and adopt any new skills you might need when full-automation comes to life.

If your current employer is thinking about ways to increase productivity through automation, talk to them about what training/skills you need to polish in order to prepare. There are a number of skills and areas of expertise that will be in demand, e.g. to be digitally literate, which can be a great boost to your CV whether you would like to stay with your current company or go elsewhere.

If you are considering a new professional start, why not drop us a message today. Our experienced recruiters are always on the lookout for top candidates within Reading, Maidenhead, Slough & Windsor, Bracknell and Wokingham areas!

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