Robots and Automated Warehouses: Job creators Not Job Destroyers

Robots and Automated Warehouses: Job creators Not Job DestroyersIf you’ve been paying attention to the news lately it seems like everybody’s getting into robotics. Google’s many recent acquisitions of robotics firms, including Boston Dynamics—along with Amazon’s preview of its proposed drone delivery system—have both made big headlines, causing shares of other robotics firms such as iRobot to soar as much as 20 percent. With these two major players getting directly involved in the industry it seems that robots may soon be taking over everything, including our jobs.

While total robot domination may be a great theme for a science fiction movie, the reality is that robots—such as those found in Amazon’s own automated warehouses—will take-over a number of lower-level positions. However, robots will also play a major role in creating new, interesting and innovative jobs that are much more suitable for a rising tech-savvy generation. 

Every day, at Amazon, and factories and warehouses throughout the world, robots are performing tasks that we don’t even think about. Most of these tasks are dull, repetitive, and require little to no skill—jobs that when performed by humans had significantly higher turnover rates than more engaging jobs. In addition, robotic tasks often require heavy lifting which, when performed over and over by humans can lead to repetitive stress type injuries. As Aldo Zini, the CEO of Aethon, a maker of robots designed to perform basic tasks in hospitals puts it, “Robots are replacing jobs that people don’t want to do and really shouldn’t be doing.”

Aside from Robotics

In examining the effect of robotics on displacing workers, it’s important to consider the affects that other technological advances have had on the workforce. One example that stands out is the invention of the tractor. Prior to the tractor’s introduction into the fields of America around a hundred years ago, roughly 70 percent of all U.S. workers were employed in agriculture. Today that number has shrunk to just 2 percent. While those statistics might lead some to conclude that the tractor was a job killer for the economy, the opposite was actually true. In response to the tractor’s disruption of how things were done—farming was now more efficient—the workforce adapted and developed in a new direction. While some jobs were initially eliminated, new jobs cropped up and U.S. agricultural prosperity continued.

IFR Research

Earlier this year the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) published some interesting research on the future impact of robotics on the job market. The study entitled “Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment” claims that over the next eight years more than two million jobs will be created due to the robotics industry. In support of these findings, Gudrun Litzenberger, General Secretary of IFR stated the following: “Our study proves that robots create jobs. Robotics and automation are the solution. Certain jobs may be reduced by robotics and animation, but the study highlights that many more jobs are created.”

Of course the claims of this study could be said to reflect the biases of an organization that, after all, represents the robot industry. However, it’s clear that, until robots become capable of building, programming, installing and maintaining themselves—something that many in the field of artificial Intelligence (AI) believe will one day happen—the field of robotics will continue to provide millions of engaging and fulfilling jobs for many years to come.

Felix Jacobson
Felix Jacobson is an authority in the tech and automotive industry. His passion is educating consumers on how to find the best deals out there - from great deals on new/used gadgets to the best auto refinance rates. He believes strongly that consumers should not be taken advantage of!

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