Thirty, forty, even fifty years ago Americans and Europeans worried about their jobs being outsourced to lower-cost workers. These workers could do the same task at a much lower price point and employers, especially manufacturers, were watching their bottom line as competition through global trade grew.
Today the global workforce is in a similar situation. What we face today is not each other, though, but the prospect of losing our positions to competing humans but to highly skilled and intelligent machines.
Take, for example, Sophia. Sophia is an intelligent robot constructed by Hanson Robotics, a firm led by Dr. David Hanson located in Hong Kong. You can learn more about Sophia here, on a website dedicated solely to her. About a month ago, on Oct. 26, 2017, Sophia was the first robot to receive citizenship from any country in the world. She has been on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan, and most recently was names the UNPD’s Innovation Champion for Asia and Pacific.
That’s a lot of credit for a robot to rack up in just a few years.
And while that may be scary, there’s a lot of upside to it. Naysayers claim with automation comes the scourging of the human race as we become lazy and complacent and highly intelligent robots become our overlords. Which is certainly a possibility, but that assumption only rings true if we all hit the lowest common denominator.
What is truly great about the human race is there are a lot of us who constantly strive for better. We can’t stand to just sit around and twiddle our thumbs. So even if a robot is able to do our work better, faster, more efficiently, we’ll just look to learn and create something the robot can’t. Instead of a battle this transition should be more like a permanent vacation, the chance to do something long-term you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance.
Not only will there be those that strive to grow creatively and intellectually to work alongside automation, new industries and roles are already growing because of automation. Right now, data scientist is one of the hottest jobs on the market. Every company not just wants one but needs one. A decade ago, this specialization was reserved for the most prestigious enterprises and institutions. As automation grows in the workplace there is also a new and continuous need to upskill and retrain human talent on the use of new processes around that automation. This takes a gentle hand to ensure those workers that a machine is not taking their job, it is simply making their day a little easier.
Automation is good. AI is good. Robotics is good. And humans are pretty good too. The future of work is a scene that takes the best aspects of those four variables and integrates them in the most effective way. Not only will this result in higher margins, greater compensation, and a better work/life balance, there will be safer products, new exciting creations, and a revolution in workflow process. It’s time to put away the fear and embrace the automation.
I hope you enjoyed my first opinion piece. While I am away from my precious microphone this will be my primary source of contact. Comment at will, subscribe on Google Play, follow on Twitter @AmandaDarc_ and connect on LinkedIn.