You can’t spend much time on the internet these days without seeing things about driverless cars and other robots, and all the hype that goes along with them.
A lot of people can’t wait until this new future arrives.
But if robots are going to do everything for us, then what are we going to do?
Noel Sharkey is the Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robots at the Univeristy of Sheffield and is the co-founder of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.
He believes we’re on the verge of a robot revolution and spoke with Simi Sara about how the use of robotics will affect employment.
Service jobs at risk
He says one area that’s going to be badly hit is the service industry.
“There’s a company in California that has made a robot device…it can cut burgers from fresh meat right from scratch, make them and deliver to the window for people in the drive-by quicker than a McDonald’s person can flip their burger.”
Sharkey says no one is looking at the bigger picture, which is one of the reasons the Foundation for Responsible Robotics came into being.
He cites recent reports that suggest jobs are being lost at an alarming rate, including a report from the chief economist of the Bank of England, suggesting up to 15 million jobs in the UK could be at risk of automation, and as many as 80 million jobs in the U.S.
“I’m really worried for people. I’m at the age where it’s not going to affect me, but it’s going to affect my children and my grandchildren severely.”
Sharkey says only Germany is looking at the issue, and considering implementing an automation dividend.
“Their idea is that for every human job that’s replaced by a robot, they will have to pay a very large dividend that will fund a human to be not working.”
For now he says, robotic technology continues at a headlong rush as companies strive to develop, and ultimately make more money.
Examples of industries affected:
- Fast food chains – automated food prep and service
- Mining – driverless trucks
- Farming – self-driving tractors and threshing machines
- Elderly care – Japan is investing in care of the elderly by robot
He says that there are great robotic-assistive technologies such as beds that turn into wheelchairs, but isn’t so sure abouty being taken care of completely by robots in his old age.