In use of robots in the workforce
In this technologically driven age, having robots perform some of our daily jobs is no longer an uncommon sight. As technology advances, robots now do not simply assist humans in the workplace but are able to assume different tasks that were only able to be completed by humans previously. This results in many people being at risk of losing their job as their jobs get replaced by the use of robots. Even though the use of robots in the workforce has only become increasingly rampant in recent years, the use of robots has been dated back to the 1990s.
The impact of robots on the labour market can be seen from a study by two economists, Acemoglu and Restrepo (2017). According to the study made, it was concluded that between 1990 and 2007, the number of robots in the United States (U.S.) and Western Europe had increased by four times. This increase in robots in the labour market resulted in a decrease in jobs available for humans, with 670,000 jobs in the U.S. economy being eliminated in the process during that period (Guo, 2017). It has been established that robots indeed have an immense impact on humans and as the number of robots continues to spread in the decades to come, the implications of robots will be much more extensive. A report by McKinsey & Company revealed that up to 800 million workers globally could be affected by job replacement by robots by the year 2030 (Connley, 2017).
The preferred use of robots rather than human labour is obvious in today’s society. Robots are able to perform tasks at a much faster rate than humans, allowing for decreased production costs. Robots also bring about great precision, which meant improved quality as well as reliability of their products. As companies want to be more competitive in the market, the apparent choice for them would be to look towards the use of robots to improve productivity levels. At the beginning of January 2018, LG Electronics, which is one of the South Korean tech giants, made public about its new robots which will be replacing several service industry jobs such as the ones in the hotel industry (Choudhury, 2018). Unlike humans, robots are able to work without rest and such efficiency is essential especially in the service industry. Hence, robots will continue to be produced as long as the demand for efficiency exists.
It is no doubts that some professions face a greater risk of being replaced by robots than others. Ford (2017) explained that highly routine jobs, jobs which includes processing a large amount of predictable data or jobs with repetitive tasks are most at risk of being automated and replaced by robots. As someone who is studying social work, a profession that requires empathy and preserving the dignity and inherent worth of an individual, a human touch is thus essential in this profession, which is something robots are unable to provide. Therefore, it will be among one of the professions that will face a low risk of being eliminated by robots.
The issue of robots replacing human jobs is not one that can be simply solved as robots help to drive productivity in an economy, a necessity for growth. However, robots are only able to accomplish what was programmed into them. Hence, they lack the ability to create ideas. One way to go about this issue would be to change the focus of our education system to encourage more brainstorming and creativity. By focusing more on such aspects, it helps to differentiate us humans from robots, allowing humans to remain in their jobs. Thus, what we need more is utilising the strengths of both humans and robots to create a future where robots transform our jobs instead of replacing them.