Are You Smarter Than a Robot?

Posted by Kari Grosser on Apr 29, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Your days at the factory could be numbered as an increasing range of your repetitive jobs are done more efficiently by industrial robots. New robots employed in the manufacturing process of the factory you have been working in, now doing your repetitive jobs. You stop for a moment and ask: Could a robot or machine be smarter than me, do my job better and eventually steal it? The answer, unfortunately for you, is probably - yes.

Robots may be dangerous not only to the action heroes of marvel sci-fi movies, but also to the average manufacturing worker as machines threaten to steal human jobs and eliminate the need for human employment. Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025, up to a ¼ of manufacturing jobs will be replaced by robots and machines, while a study from Oxford University has suggested that about 75% of industrial jobs will be stolen by robots in 50 years. However, the robotification of the intelligent factories is happening at the present time.

Production and manufacturing workers, doing processes broken down into a sequence of repetitive mastered tasks, are easily replaced with robots placing their jobs under threat. Let’s looks at HUBO, a multifunctional walking humanoid robot. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the DARPA-winning Hubo robot impressed attendees with its industrial capabilities.

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In China, people are already making robots that will ultimately take their jobs. Robots are far more efficient at doing repetitive jobs. The first robot-only factory is being built in China's Dongguan factory city. The factory, owned by Sehnzhen Evenwin Precision Technology, aims to reduce the current workforce of 1,800 by 90%, according to Chen Zingui, chairman of the board.

But Chinese ambitions to transform the workforce in a robot army go much further. Since September 2015, a total of 505 factories across Dongguan have invested 4.2bn yuan (£430m) in robots, aiming to replace more than 30,000 workers, according to the Dongguan Economy and Information Technology Bureau.

Foxconn, a manufacturer of electronic devices such as Apple's iPhone, also plans to build a robot workforce although its ambitions are slightly more modest - aiming for a 30% robot workforce in the next five years. About 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerization over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte.

Robots are far more efficient at doing repetitive jobs and, according to the BBC Technology article, are already stealing human jobs. Robots and computer assisted humans produce goods and services cheaper and more efficiently than humans alone. In a capitalist system robots will win as the companies using technology will dominate in the marketplace as only the most profitable companies survive and grow. The world's capital is flowing towards automation and away from investing in human labor simply because automation has a better ROI. The next industrial revolution, the so-called "fourth industrial revolution" or Industry 4.0, will bring ever faster cycles of innovation, posing huge challenges to companies, workers, governments and societies alike.

Robots are already on the march but, do not worry. Yes, the robots could steal our jobs. And that’s fine. For sure, those jobs will be replaced with new ones.

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