Future Of Work - Are Robots Good Or Bad?

Should we be fearful of robots replacing us in our jobs?


Around a decade ago I remember telling my friend that his idea to become an airline pilot was flawed. Not only is it one of the most competitve sectors to get a job, I always assumed that by the time 2015 came along, aeroplanes would be controlled by a crew of robots.

We’re now four months into 2015 and the robot flight crew that I had so accurately envisaged around 10 years before has yet to come to fruition.

Whilst we’re still not at a stage where robots are flying our planes, it would be incorrect to say that we’ve come no closer to it. To add to this, recent tragedies, including flight MH17 and German Airbus A320, have fuelled conversations around the space, leaving many wondering whether the development of computer controlled pilots should be prioritised.

Carl Frey and Michael Osbourne, researchers at the University of Oxford, made the bold prediction that 47% of US jobs were at risk of computerisation. Not solely confined to the US, the same pair also claimed that 35% of British jobs would soon be at the peril of robots.

It’s normal for people to be worried about the rise of robotics in the workplace - everybody assumes that once their profession gets automated that they’ll be out of a job. The Wall Street Journal did those of us who are worried no favours either, releasing a report which stated;

‘Wonder if automation technology is near a tipping point, when machines finally master traits that have kept human workers irreplaceable’

Although the rise of robotics in the workplace will create a landscape which neither economists or politicians are currently used to, it’s not going to put us all out of a job. Technological advances have eroded the importance of certain jobs, but they’ve been the catalyst for many more.

The truth is that the development of technology allows everybody to do new things, free of the automated jobs which we were once burdened with.

The car and the internet are two examples of advancements which affected the job market. Just like is predicted with robots, they displaced a number of once established professions. However, the destruction of those roles was equalled out by the creation of completely new jobs, many of which we take for granted today.

What it all comes down to is the fact that economics is all about production, it’s not about grinding everyone down so that they’re working 16 hours per day. Creating more with less is what we should be striving for, ridding of sweatshops and allowing people to enjoy their childhood and retirement. For me, robotics points to more free time as robots take on tasks which we’re now just not required to do anymore.


Read next:

Leading Innovation into the Mainstream