In the words of Kage Baker, the famous Science Fiction author, “According to Jewish legend, only the very wisest and very holiest rabbis had the power to make golems, animated servants of clay. Strictly speaking, the golem is not in the same class with Frankenstein’s monster, because the golem is neither alive nor dead. He is, rather, the ancestor of all robots”.
Robots have been one of the path-breaking inventions for humankind. They can potentially change the way humans live their lives right from the way they grow crops, reap them, commute, produce goods, cook, dine, study, entertain themselves and everything else.
Co-existence has started
Organizations have started automating some of their processes using robots. Humans are working alongside these robots. Advanced manufacturing processes have protected themselves from human errors and fatigue by deploying robots and controlling them using computer programs. Humans feed into the robot and pick its output to feed into the next.
Going forward, we will find more and more of these taking place across industry sectors. Manufacturing, Construction, Mining will be the first ones where we will see robots aplenty. Current applications are too few and far between.
Chatbots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to converse with customers. Several industry sectors have started using these. Several HR processes are already getting automated using bots. Robots will soon be a reality in service industry sectors such as supply chain, healthcare, hospitality and retail.
Repetitive Tasks will go to the Robot
In the value chain of a process, repetitive tasks and decisions which are based on predetermined rules occupy the bottom of the pyramid. These tasks are the highest in number and hence, the chances of error are the highest in these. It is pretty much a rational decision to get robots to perform these tasks rather than deploying human effort for this.
Human beings have their own aspirations to grow and emotions that govern their concentration and focus. Robots are deprived of these and thus, present an opportunity of getting routines done error-free with relentless discipline. Moreover, robots do not pose challenges to supervisors and HR folks to introduce attractive incentives, invest energies to keep them interested in the job.
We will adapt well
As robots will eventually take over transactional jobs and manual work, there will be significant impact on the world of work. Number of blue collar employees required across industry sectors could come down drastically. A large part of the tasks performed by white collar jobs such as teachers, nurses, lab technicians, lawyers, accountants, HR executives, customer service executives, secretarial, data entry operators, IT helpdesk executives and so on could potentially be carried out by robots as long as it makes commercial sense of replacing human workers by robot workers.
Interpersonal relationships will have a new dimension : human-machine relationship. While engineers are working towards injecting empathy to robots, current capabilities are focused on improving process efficiency and accuracy.
Future of work is interesting and exciting. Human beings have to be educated and trained to perform tasks which involve emotions, are unique and cannot be defined step by step. We have to be comfortable letting our manual and repetitive tasks performed by robots. Some households have robots working for them to clean their floors. Many of us have been using digital assistants and a few such bots in our daily lives. While these are small steps, we will see many of us using robots and bots perform our regular tasks such as driving, answering emails, keeping track of our finances, refilling provisions at home, paying bills and investing surplus cash and so on. Similarly, organizations will get many of their tasks assigned to robots.
Like Google Maps have changed the way we navigate our routes and most of us have adapted well, humans will take this development in their stride. We are likely to face challenges similar to the time when computers were introduced in banks, railways and government offices. And we will get over these challenges!