Robots are now a fixture of everyday life, from home vacuums to digital assistants. Automation also has brought massive changes to how many industries do business, leaving many in fear of losing their jobs and being unable to adapt to a changing workplace.
A 2018 report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) acknowledges that millions of jobs in the future are likely to be displaced by automation. These changes may disproportionately affect low-skill, low-wage sectors, heightening societal inequalities. However, the WEF report suggests that robots are a “net positive,” displacing 75 million jobs globally by 2022 but creating 133 million new ones.
While there is no guarantee that lost jobs will be replaced and the skills gap is real, it seems certain that advances in computing will free up workers for new tasks and create new jobs altogether. We are likely facing a new vision for work, one in which humans work at higher levels of productivity (think less work, but more output), thanks to co-existing with robots, working side-by-side personal robots, digital assistants, or artificial intelligence tools. Rather than being bogged down by easily automated processes, humans can leverage robots to focus on more abstract, creative tasks, bringing about new innovative solutions.
The biggest complication in forecasting what the jobs market will look like in as little 5 years’ time is that new technologies will create jobs that do not currently exist. However, we are able to make some plausible guesses on the basis of new jobs that have emerged in the past few years. These new jobs already exist and continue to grow across industries, making processes safer, more efficient, and cost-effective. Here are seven different job opportunities that exist thanks to robots.
Robots are already an important tool in medicine, but all with human oversight. In particular, “cobots”—easily programmable robots created to work with humans—enhance human skills in delicate surgeries, such as holding scalpels in the operating theater.
These robots work under the expert guidance of surgeons, helping them make surgery safer and more precise. While cost is a prohibitive factor for many hospitals and medical facilities, with the cost of robots running upwards from $2 million, many of these robots are practical and do not require humans beyond programmers.
This may allow doctors and medical researchers to focus on other things, creating an entire cadre of new jobs in medical research and even health and wellness, helping to eliminate diseases, increase the quality of life, and improve longevity.
Journalism is one field in which the human element is critical to reporting information accurately. A robot writer named Radar works hand in hand with journalists to produce stories. Reporters create a variety of story templates. Radar then locates relevant data for almost 500 local areas and picks the right template to design articles. Radar frees journalists from having to spend unnecessary time on data gathering and allows them to focus on the necessary human task of reporting.
The onset of “big data” has brought a suite of digital tools from machine learning to artificial intelligence designed to provide up-to-the-minute data on seemingly every aspect of the world around us. One growing industry is data analytics, which exists to help humans gather and understand what these data all mean and to find actionable solutions from them. Herein lies the future of shopping, with retailers and marketers becoming de facto data analysts with the goal to bring consumers a more personalized shopping experience on the basis of data trained algorithms.
Software is one area in which jobs will continue to grow because of robots. Developers are the brains that run the robots and automated tools of today and the future, from robots in manufacturing that build everything from cars to plates to personal robots and apps. In these roles, developers should continue to build artificial intelligence systems that enhance what humans can do and how they live, not replace them.
We live in an interconnected world. Social media brings with it a burgeoning sector of jobs in which people use robots and other artificial intelligence tools to manage and personalize the digital experience across platforms. Like journalism, social media needs a human touch to bring the necessary authenticity that draws in readers. While automated tools can greatly help manage, track, and monetize content, social media depends upon the “realness” of the human factor.
While algorithms are threatening the future of industries like retail, call centers, and transport, the automation of parts of customer service in fact is creating an entirely new industry. The day of robot telemarketers is over. While automated solutions can greatly improve the efficiency and trackability of processes across industries, customer service is one area in which the human touch is necessary. The future of customer service is all about personalization. People do not want to deal with a robot when they have a problem; they want to deal with an empathetic person who understands their issue.
Another arena in which robots are paving the way for humans is education. From teaching robots to online learning systems and digital repositories, robots can greatly enhance how people teach and learn, particularly when it comes to assistive technologies. But, the future of humanity arguably lies in the art and science of humans educating humans.
Artificial intelligence offers researchers and writers the possibility to gain new insights into old texts and to learn about an endless variety of topics from anywhere in the world. But, it is again, ultimately, a future in which robots help enhance the human experience, building new ways of understanding and learning.
Finally, another way in which humans are already co-existing with robots across homes and businesses is the personal robot. Take temi, a personal robot designed to help businesses be smarter and more present. The temi robot uses a fully autonomous open Android platform that communicates and interacts with people in a constantly changing environment.
Its B2B applications primarily revolutionize customer experiences, making businesses more customer-centric, more mobile, and more flexible. Whether you operate in a traditional office, retail, academic, or another context, a robot-like temi can help you build a business of the future, maintaining a global presence, all with a human touch. For instance, temi’s interaction and navigation allow employees to consume video calls hands-free while on the move, anytime.
Robots can help humans create a brighter more productive future. The future of work and, in turn, perhaps of humanity itself lies in thinking carefully about the strengths and weaknesses of humans and robots and how they interact.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have demonstrated that brains synchronize while playing online games even when the participants are not physically present in the same room.