FutureTechnology

An Automated World

You’ve heard it a million times, “This is nothing like we have seen before.” “This is our first ever…” And “The new and improved..” Our world is in an era of new. This is a fascinating time to be alive. We are constantly seeing new brands, products and technologies made to be the biggest, best and improve our everyday lives. Please tell me I am not the only one who gets excited about our future technology and what it means for each of us personally.

All of this new, also means that there is a lot that we don’t know. We don’t know what consumers will actually use. We have to learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn about the benefits of our new tech along with the negative repercussions.

But I have a concern. What happens when our technology advances us? And this time I am not referring to a robot army taking over the planet. What I do mean is that robots could take all of our jobs.

Good quality customer service and homemade products are hard to beat. How could we replace the well trained friendly staff for robots? Customers want fresh products made by the people who care about what they are selling, there is no way a robot made meal will feel authentic. While there are these and other points to consider, what happens when a robot is considerably cheaper than human employees?

Employees need hours of training, maybe years of schooling, vacations, maternity or paternity leave, sick days and benefits. Compare that with a specially designed robot who can do everything a taxi driver can. This robot will most definitely cost a lot of money, but it will not need the list of necessities including interpersonal relationships and the HR department that a human does. Yes, computers crash and robots malfunction but they can be replaced. A human cannot, at least not without a company falling behind for a moment or for weeks.

About 4.6 million people in the US alone work in retail and almost 5 million people drive a vehicle for a living. (Truckers, taxis, ubers, transit bus.) These are just two categories of jobs that could very soon be handed over to the robots. The amount of people in unemployment would be devastating.

A few more places of work that I can imagine being altered greatly by new technologies are libraries, pharmacies, restaurants, custodian work, sales and even farms. I obviously don’t know exactly what tech will affect the jobs involved in these businesses but I know that we have already seen these places of work changing to keep with the times.

Did you know that milk farms milk their cows with robots? This giant machine can feed and wash the cows all while the cow is milked. This cuts back on the number of people needed to get all this work done, meaning fewer jobs. I’m sure the cows love the 24 hour service though.

Our watches can diagnose us with a low or high heart rate. Imagine if we didn’t meet with a doctor to be diagnosed, but instead a robot was able to tell us the next steps we should take on the road to recovering from a flu or virus.

Japan has one of the first fully automated restaurants and America was quick to do the same. The orders are made digitally and in the Japan restaurant your food will be delivered via conveyor belt. In the American restaurant the order will appear in a cubby on the wall with your name and order number on the screen for you to take.

Then there is the Amazon go store. As you walk into this store you scan your amazon account code which signs you in. Then it is able to track when you pick up an item and it adds it to your cart. You are also able to put items back and not be charged for it. As you leave the store you pay for your purchase by exiting the building and the cost is charged to your amazon account. Pretty cool huh?

What will our world look like when all these places of work are occupied with robots to fulfill every task? Will our jobs become strictly management positions as we monitor robots? Would we go to school to basically learn about design to continue development of these robots? How would different political parties deal with automation and employment?

It’s hard to picture a world where robots are more than tools we use to assist us. In reality, it does sound very far away still. But what would that world look like? If you have thoughts on this topic I would love to hear them as none of us actually know what the future holds. Your hypothesis could be the opposite of mine and I would love to understand your thought process.

Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from you very soon.

Tess Houcher

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