The Robot Myth
Currently, almost 75% of manufacturers are worried about shifting workforce demographics. The increase of smart machines and robotics in the workplace are an undeniable force and part of that concern, but the concept of robots completely taking over the work force is truly a myth.
There are computers on the market that are able to diagnose illnesses with less error than humans, and even robots that are able to write a song that is nearly identical to a human’s composition; But just because these technologies exist does not make their human counterparts obsolete. In a Forbes article, Contributor Steve Denning says, “The fact that a Concorde can fly faster than a Boeing 767 doesn’t mean that Concordes replace 767s. The outcome depends on the costs and benefits of developing and operating the two types of aircraft. Similarly, the fact that a computer can do something better than a human being doesn’t mean that the computer will replace the human being. The market will determine whether it is economical to do so, given the costs and perceived benefits.”
Something interesting to consider is how the market would respond to robots as a new market competitor. Many people with concerns on this matter are assuming that some of the robot’s superior elements will cause the market to entirely forget about the humans of the workforce. But when looking at other new entrants to the marketplace, this has never been the case. Denning says, “The new entrant may appeal to some customers but will not appeal to others. In a free market, prices will determine the eventual proportion of the market shared held by each.”
Apart from the financial aspects of this issue, there are some who believe that if some current technical inefficiencies in workforce are overcome by robotics, we will still be essential in the workforce because of our one-of-a-kind qualities and mental capabilities. Author Michael Suede says, “Robots will never be able to replace the creativity of the human mind, which requires a consciousness not present in any machine.”
It is true that the amount of Americans working in fields has diminished 31% in the last century, but it is also true that countless jobs have become available from creation and need for new technology. It may also be true that robotics could replace the need for humans in the general repetitive warehouse work, but this may open more doors for employees to pursue jobs that use the “creativity of the human mind” that Suede mentions.
Robert D. Atkinson from the MIT Technology Review says, “The worries of machines overtaking humans are as old as machines themselves.” With this, keep in mind that complete autonomy does not truly exist. With almost every robot there is at least a small amount of human interaction and direction, and that is one of jobs here at AMT!