Neither immigration nor outsourcing is the reason so many Americans are finding it harder and harder to get paying jobs — the reason is robots. Technology is advancing faster than ever, and many fear that automation will completely eliminate the demand for a human workforce, decimating the economy and sending the unemployment rate through the roof.
However, other researchers argue the exact opposite: Robots (and other advanced technologies) will only provide aid to the modern worker, making all sorts of jobs easier and more profitable. To support this hopeful outlook on the future of employment, here are eight ways robots create and improve jobs today.
1. Fulfill Essentials
If Mike Rowe taught us nothing else with his seminal show “Dirty Jobs,” he at least showed us that there are hundreds (thousands!) of dirty, disgusting, dangerous jobs that humans perform every day in order to keep civilization running smoothly. The worst jobs tend to be the ones we need most for healthy survival, including agriculture and waste management. Fortunately, most of these professions could easily be outsourced to robots, allowing the current human workers to devote their time less to manual labor and more to innovation and creative solutions, as happened in the first Industrial Revolution. Thus, even as robots take hardworking American jobs, they will create higher-quality positions for those displaced workers to fill.
2. Improve Safety
Most of the ire robots receive is due to their inhuman status: They don’t have feelings, goals, or families to feed, so why should they get jobs? However, it is exactly their soullessness that we can take advantage of to better humanity’s stance. Robots are programmed to perform certain tasks regardless of danger, so they will risk life and limb while human workers remain safe and secure.
3. Intensify Productivity
The biggest lesson from the concept of division of labor is that the more focused a single worker’s task, the more a group of complementary workers can complete in a given period. A workforce of specialized robots can produce infinitely more than a single craftsman, and according to one estimate, about 40 times more than an assembly line of workers. The increased output from utilizing robots allows companies to pay their workers livable wages and create newer, better jobs off the factory floor.
Of course, laborers aren’t the only force who can look forward to working hand-in-mechanical-claw with robots. Already, white-collar workers around the country rely on various technologies to make their work easier; for example, Windward produces superior reporting software that reduces employees’ efforts on unproductive reports, allowing workers to focus more energy on completing fruitful projects. Technology like this is sure to become more prevalent in office spaces as robots demonstrate their usefulness elsewhere.
4. Develop Quality
The devil is in the details; after years of doing the same tasks, many workers lose focus and fudge the particulars, which can send businesses reeling. Fortunately, robots never fudge. Programmed to complete the same task in the same way for hours and days, robots provide the same high-quality work expected of them until they break down.
5. Increase Speed
Today, customers and fellow businesses want instant access to the products they need, and speedier companies will certainly have an edge. Workers who are able to fill orders fast will gain all sorts of benefits, and the fastest workers are undoubtedly those who work with robots on the floor. Unlike humans, who can sustain maximum speed for just short periods, robots never tire, and their speeds seem to increase 100-fold every few years. Soon, workers can look forward to short, easy projects rather than tedious and grueling ones, thanks to robots.
6. Advance Innovation
It is unlikely that robots will ever be tasked with jobs that require creativity and ingenuity; it is as yet impossible to program a robot for such vague tasks. However, robots’ lack of vision doesn’t preclude them from enhancing humans’ ability to innovate effectively. Just as certain types of software allow office workers today to improve their productivity, robots can provide aid to creators looking to analyze and test their ideas before releasing them to the public. Thus, businesses can take fewer risks with new ventures, allowing refinement and retooling of ideas before wasting resources bringing bad concepts to market. As always, less waste is more gain: Robots allow businesses to make money, which is a gain for all workers.