We’ve all read the studies showing that machines are expected to take over millions of jobs from humans in the not-so-far future, suggesting that a terrifying I, Robot type of world awaits us. But do we really need to fear competition from robots?
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Although no one cannot predict the future, the evidence suggests that robots won’t replace humans for a while yet — in fact, in today’s workplace, technology often changes jobs, rather than makes them obsolete.
Although advancements in technology have resulted in the loss of human jobs, there are also “collaborative” robots being developed that require the assistance of humans to function properly — a co-dependency type of relationship.
“The aim is to combine the dexterity, flexibility and problem-solving skills of humans with the strength, endurance and precision of robots,” indicates Volker Grunenwald, head of systems integration at Pilz, a German engineering firm, in his interview with The Economist. These so-called “collaborative” robots will actually benefit humans by eliminating strenuous and, oftentimes, dangerous jobs required of human laborers and pass those tasks off to machine labor.
According to The Economist, BMW will be implementing said technology in 2014 by incorporating a “a slow-moving collaborative robot in its factory […] which co-operates with a human worker to insulate and water-seal vehicle doors.” The help of this robot will allow human capital to be removed from this unpleasant task and, possibly, prevent elbow strain resulting from performing this task.
Librarians’ jobs have also changed, thanks to technology. In the infographic below, the University of Southern California illustrates how the job of a librarian has adapted to the needs of the digital age.