I've written often about the danger to many current jobs posed by automation, artificial intelligence and robotics. Here are just a few of my previous articles.
Now the Financial Times warns that it's getting closer and closer to reality.
Meet Sawyer. It is the newest robot on the block designed to speed up automation in factories by taking on tasks that once relied on humans’ manual dexterity and good eyesight.
The machine is one of two new “collaborative” robots, or co-bots, launched this week that are part of a new generation of affordable lightweight robots that are unlocking new markets and applications beyond automotive and semiconductor manufacturing, where robots have been a mainstay for decades.
Robot companies have been rushing to develop co-bots, which can work side-by-side with employees rather than behind a safety cage, as they look to capitalise on a growing trend by manufacturers to turn to technology to compete amid rising wage costs and labour shortages.
Dan Kara, robotics practice director at ABI Research, believes the latest models will help boost the number of collaborative robots being used in factories. “The dexterity of the new generation of co-operative robots is improving . . . and they have the added advantage of working safely and effectively in workspaces occupied by humans,” says Mr Kara.
Lightweight collaborative robots are cheaper, more dexterous, easier to move between tasks and do not require specialist programming skills. Many of them can be taught new moves by simply taking the robot arm and moving it to show it what to do.
Sawyer will be marketed for $29,000, compared with a six figure sum for an industrial robot. Universal Robots sells its flexible, lightweight robot arms for between €20,000 to €30,000.
This has helped make automation more accessible for small and medium-sized businesses that previously could not afford the expensive heavyweight traditional industrial robots or did not consider them economical for smaller production volumes or contract manufacturing.
There's more at the link. It's sobering reading.
Folks, I can't warn too strongly: anywhere between six and seven out of every ten jobs that exist today are in serious danger of being automated out from under those who work in them. Be aware of that potential in your field of work; try to plan ahead when you see the signs; and look for any and every opportunity to expand your skills or cross-train in more areas, so that you become indispensable and can't be replaced by a robot. If worst comes to worst, change career fields and start over - only do it now, while you still have time, and beat the rush when everyone else tries to do it at the last minute.