Friday, February 1, 2013

Robots in the Workforce: The Next Generation

by AJ Snook

To add to video posted yesterday about Amazon's robots, I just ran across this Washington Post article about all of the potential jobs that will be lost once Google Cars gets going. A Rice University scientist in the article even says, "Driving by people...will look a horse and buggy."

So if the first generation of human replacement came with the birth of the industrial and agricultural machines, then the next generation, that of GPS based "movers" seems to be here. It's only a matter of time before a copter drone or a driver-less deliver buggy brings you late-night munchies.

What machines will come after these autonomous movers? The news trends point to AI-based communicators (think Siri, but a lot sharper) being this third generation of job usurpers. These AIs will take even more customer service and telephone-based jobs. Rather, they will take nearly all jobs that require only basic information gathering and computer input over the phone.

Is there room for more robots to cover for us at work? Yes. The fourth generation, and the scariest of all if we continue to operate under the same economic model as we do now, will be the robots with fine motor skills. They will combine with the communicative AIs and be the ones at Taco Bell taking your order, making your burrito, and handing it to you. They will be the cleaners, the recyclers, the hair dressers, the car mechanics (your car can drive itself there), the farmers, and nurses.

When will they even be our doctors and teachers? Inevitably.

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