More and more companies are using robots to increase efficiency, boost productivity, and improve safety. But if you’re feeling unsettled by the idea of having robot co-workers, fear not.
Your robotic co-workers may not look like humans, and they may not be made of metal. Some robots are AI-enabled, using only the internet and the cloud.
Robots of all shapes, sizes, and forms are joining the workforce, and it’s important to keep the right balance between robots and humans.
Here are the top ten reasons you don’t need to fear your new robot colleagues:
Robots can take over the repetitive parts of your job
Would you like to eliminate some of the most boring parts of your job, like paperwork, invoicing, or timesheets? That’s perfect work for robots. In a recent survey of over 15,000 people from around the globe, 51% said they were “extremely” or “very interested” in having automation take over tedious aspects of their jobs.
Robots can put themselves in harm’s way so we don’t have to
Some jobs are too dangerous for human workers. Robots are now being used to improve safety by performing high-risk tasks like stirring molten metal, lifting very heavy objects, or working in contaminated environments.
Robots take on the dirtiest jobs
Robots can tackle some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet.
A Russian engineering firm developing a robot that inspects oil pipelines by testing the structural integrity of pipe walls with its robot arms and looking for flaws and cracks.
A robot named “Luigi,” designed by MIT’s Senseable City Lab, has the dirtiest job of all: It collects waste from sewers and sends samples to public health officials to look for problems like infectious disease, pollutants, or drug use.
They can make our work better
Ever missed a typo on an important piece of business or personal communication? AI tools can help you check and correct your grammar, so your work is actually better.
DARPA is currently experimenting with AI that puts automated assistants into cockpits with human pilots. The “helper” AI performed better at some tasks where humans struggled, like landing with a failed engine.
Robots will be able to take over work that might waste human potential
What could people do if robots took over jobs like taxi driving or handling checkout at the supermarket? What could people achieve if they didn’t need to spend time doing work they didn’t love?
Robots make us stronger
Hyundai Motor Group is using exoskeletons — robotic suits that humans wear — in their factories to reduce injury by decreasing pressure on workers’ backs and necks. My prediction is that more manufacturers will begin using exoskeletons to enhance human performance by making us stronger.
We can co-create with robots
Researchers and musicians are already using AI to create new songs, and there are even fully AI-generated artists playing original music on screen. AI won’t replace human creativity, though — it will only enhance it.
A great example is Wayne McGregor’s Living Archive, an artificially intelligent choreography tool, trained on hours of video from the choreographer’s previous works. Now the AI system generates multiple original movements for any new phrase, resulting in unique dance productions.
Robots will make human skills more important than ever before
Although robots are incredible, there are still plenty of ways humans are irreplaceable. Cultivating distinctly human skills like emotional intelligence, creativity, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking will be more important than ever in the workplace of the future.
They can do jobs humans are not able to do
Nanobots — tiny robots less than a micron in two or three different dimensions — will be able to perform medical feats that human beings can’t currently do. Researchers are testing different ways to use nanobots to detect and fight cancer, including bringing radioactive material directly into tumors. Nanobots might also be used to scrape plaque from arteries, act as scaffolding in rebuilding blood vessels, or deliver contrast agents to help with imaging.
Robots can be your helpers at home, too
The market already features a wide array of robots that can help you with tasks around the house, including robots that can clean your grill, mow the lawn, service your pool, and vacuum your floors.
Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla Inc. is now working on The Tesla Bot, a lifelike humanoid robot that can perform simple, repetitive tasks at home and at work. Musk implied that the new robot might even be able to go to the store and pick up groceries.