In mid-2016, smartphone manufacturer Foxconn replaced about 60,000 workers on the factory floor with semi-independent robots. Foxconn, one of the major suppliers with Samsung and Apple, continued the trend among Chinese manufacturing companies of replacing humans with robots.
In fact, manufacturing companies in Guangdong have invested over $520 million in robots since 2014, a clear indicator of the direction the industry is taking.
Locally, robots have become increasingly popular in construction sites and among emergency and law enforcement agencies. They’ve been used to defuse bombs, help with search and rescue, and many other functions that put humans at risk.
Away from the heavy-duty use cases robots and automation, in general, are moving closer to home. They are now answering phones, prescribing medicine, and doing many other tasks that were usually reserved for humans.
Check out these five regular careers that might soon be replaced by robots.
In 2014, the average babysitter was paid about $500 per week which is a bit on the higher side for the average American family. Add that to the number of unknowns, including safety concerns and finding the right sitter for your children, and you may just find yourself going for a robotic sitter.
Hollywood has taught us that robots can be entertaining and fun, which is why companies like Aeon Co. introduced robots in most of their stores to keep kids entertained while their parents were busy shopping.
Hello Kitty and PaPeRo are examples of fully-functional robots that are capable of telling jokes and tracking kids. Similar technology may replace humans as babysitters in the future.
2. Fast food workers
McDonald’s recently rolled out their “Create Your Taste” kiosks that let customers build their burgers and even make full-menu orders from stand-alone touchscreen kiosks. These customized kiosk systems have become a major hit in the fast-food industry, with companies such as Panera Bread and Wendy’s looking to supplement their labor force with these kiosks.
Customized kiosks in fast food restaurants greatly improve order accuracy, convenience, and do away with the long, winding queues. With the ever-increasing costs of labor, restaurant automation might just see robots edge humans from the job market.
If you often catch up on sports news via online news websites, chances are you have read one or two articles created by an intelligent machine. Narrative Science uses a special artificial intelligence application to generate readable stories using data from sports events around the country.
The Big Ten Network, a subsidiary of Fox Cable, uses the application to generate news stories touching on softball and baseball events. They simply email the game data from each game to Narrative Science who then feed the scores into the AI program that generates a news story within minutes – thus replacing your everyday sportswriter and news reporter.
Your prescription order might soon be serviced by a robot, that is if the automation efforts by the UCSF Medical Center are replicated across the medical field. The robotics-controlled pharmaceutical systems at two UCSF hospitals have jointly dispensed over 350,000 prescriptions without error.
The pharmacy system receives the orders from pharmacists and dispensing physicians then sends the information to robots that pick medications from the shelf, package, label, and dispense the medications. Apart from regular pills, the system is also capable of filling IV syringes and compounding chemotherapy preparations – all with little to no human involvement.
This one has been in the works for quite some time. Ever since Google and Tesla began advanced experiments with driverless cars, automakers have been shifting focus away from cars with human-supervised driving. Major auto companies like Ford, Toyota, Volvo, BMW, and Nissan have already announced plans to introduce semi or fully autonomous cars by around 2018.
Uber has even started experimenting with driverless cab services, which will be a major game changer when it finally becomes a standard service.
Machines and autonomous technology will always be a part of society. The automation debate is currently split into two sides: one holding the view that automation will spur innovation in the labor sector with the other prophesying complete doom for the human workforce.
Either way, the labor industry is poised for drastic transformation over the next few years. So for now, embrace the robots and savor the smoother, easier world of automation.
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