We all know that automation technology will transform the global workforce dramatically. But this is rather a quiet thought in one corner of our minds. We know that some day the robots will take many of our jobs, but we don’t actually picture that. Only that they already began.
Automation will potentially eliminate millions of jobs only in US, as a recent report of The White House concluded. Nearly 3.1 million drivers working today – heavy trucking, taxi, Uber – could have their jobs dissolved by autonomous vehicles.
Besides the drivers, workers in manufacturing, all sort of factories or in construction field – blue collars – must also soon come up with a B plan for making a living.
But even the white collars are threatened by Artificial Intelligence.
“Think like a human”
One Japanese insurance company, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, is officially replacing 34 human insurance claim workers with “IBM Watson Explorer” program, starting by January 2017, according to a company press release.
The AI will scan hospital records and other documents to determine insurance payouts, factoring injuries, patient medical histories, and procedures administered.
As the release explains, automation of these research and data gathering tasks will help the remaining human workers process the final payout faster.
According to IBM, this is a “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video.” Watson can also “provide personalized recommendations by understanding a user’s personality, tone, and emotion.”
Fukoku Mutual will spend $1.7 million (200 million yen) to install the AI system, and will invest $128,000 per year for maintenance, according to Japan’s The Mainichi.
By using this software, the company will manage to save about $1.1 million per year on employee salaries. This means a return on investment in less than two years.
Regarding the company’s overall productivity, Watson is expected to improve it by 30%.
Robot revolution hits almost all industries
Here are another 9 companies from different industries that are using already so called “robots”.
Ford initiates the “cobot” revolution
Ford is a pioneer when it comes to automating the car-making process. Now the company is testing the so called “cobots” – robots that work hand in glove with people, being able to perform gentle tasks like making coffee for their human colleagues.
Inditex uses Spanish robots
Zara’s parent company, Inditex, can now get a product from the design stage to the stores shelves in just 10 days, which is a fantastic performance. The company automated 14 factories in Spain, that are simply staffed by robots. They do all the tasks, from cutting patterns to dying textile.
WalMart looks to the skies for drones
WalMart is preparing to “hire” warehouse drones to fly around its distribution centers. The purpose is to monitor more efficiently the inventory levels and flag up low stock or missing items. The flying robots can do a full stock check in under a day. In the hands of a human employee, this job takes a month.
Nestle goes spicy with Pepper bots
Nestle uses SoftBank’s Pepper robots to sell Dolce Gusto coffee pods and machines in 1,000 stores in Japan. The robots are also answering as well as answer customer questions. So they aren’t just for fun and tricks.
Foxconn goes 99,9% automatic
Foxconn, the Chinese company that assembles the world top devices – Apple, Samsung, Microsoft – replaced last year 60,000 human workers with robots. And it will not stop here. The company plans to end up automating all the jobs that imply repetitive tasks.
ING, a $2 billion robot fest
The major Dutch bank, replaced 5,800 human staff with robots, spending huge amount of money – $2 billion (£1.6bn) – in the automation project in order to improve efficiency.
Marriott Hotels greets you with Mario, the robot
Marriott Hotels “hired” a friendly robot named Mario to help hotel staff check in guests at the Ghent Marriott Hotel in Belgium. Another robot named Wally has the job of room service. The droid delivers food and drink to guest at at the Marriott Residence Inn LAX in Los Angeles. So the hotel industry entered the robot revolution too.
DHL places its bets on robots
The logistics giant introduced two Rethink Robotics cobots called Baxter and Sawyer at its warehouses in US. The collaborative robots perform packing and other pre-retail tasks alongside humans. For now. In the future there will be only them to do the job.
Fidelity Investments and the robo-adviser
Fidelity Investments recently introduced the robo-adviser Fidelity Go, that uses algorithms to manage portfolios. So even financial advisers will have to search soon for a different career path.
So what is to be done? Prepare your kids for the jobs of the future
“Robots are doing more and more jobs that people used to do. Pharmacists, prison guards, boning chicken, bartending, more and more jobs we’re able to mechanise them.” said Professor Moshe Vardi, of Rice University, in the US.
“I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?” he asked. This is of course a rhetorical questions.
Until we figure out how to answer that and even realize that the technology that we build might not be doing us good, we should prepare ourselves but especially our children for the jobs of the future.
Advice from The White House
“As AI changes the nature of work and the skills demanded by the labor market, American workers will need to be prepared with the education and training that can help them continue to succeed.” write White House representatives in a report released in December last year.
“If the United States fails to improve at educating children and retraining adults with the skills needed in an increasingly AI-driven economy, the country risks leaving millions of Americans behind and losing its position as the global economic leader”, the report notes.
According to the institution’s research, College- and career-ready skills in math, reading, computer science, and critical thinking are likely to be among the factors in helping workers successfully navigate through unpredictable changes in the future labor market. So providing the opportunity to obtain those skills will be a critical component of preparing children for success in the future.
For all of them, coursework in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and specifically in areas such as computer science, will likely be especially relevant to work and citizenship in an increasingly AI-driven world.