The future of work is a topic discussed openly and widely. Given the advancements in robots and AI/EI development – what are the chances that when you go for your next promotion you’ll be competing against a ‘robot’?
Sarah Dhanda, Head of Employer Engagement and Partnerships at Semta, recently shared her views in an article for The Telegraph.
“Many people are asking if robots are going to take over their jobs and for me, the answer has got to be both yes and no,” says Sarah Dhanda, head of employer engagement and partnerships at Semta. “Although automation has already cost us some of our more routine manufacturing roles, we are seeing lots more interesting opportunities come through, particularly for programmers. I would also point to a whole range of technical maintenance roles which until recently wouldn’t even have existed.”
There’s often discussion about certain industries and sectors being more affected than others when it comes to the robot revolution. What are Sarah’s views on that?
“We are all familiar with the use of robotics for semi-skilled, white-collar roles including frontline customer service and back-office tasks such as data entry, but in the coming years we are going to see artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics move further into law and financial services. There are a number of economic, regulatory and legal hurdles to jump before we see robotics make a real impact on more complex professional sectors,” says Sarah, “but once this happens, the benefits to clients will be enormous.”
A recent study by CIPD on UK Working Lives revealed that ‘1 in 4 UK workers overwork by ten hours a week or more’. With the topical subject of work-life balance and its impact on overall productivity, the innate flexibility of smart robot team members to work abnormal shift patterns makes them a strong asset. “Our brain ‘computers’ have been programmed over millennia to problem-solve and be creative, whereas at this stage robots are more one-dimensional,” says Sarah. “As long as we create the necessary regulatory frameworks needed to underpin the extensive automation of our society, our working lives should become far more satisfying.”
And what about ‘trusting a robot’? Will this be a tough transition for co-workers? “We routinely have ‘live’ chats with call-centre machines, and passengers on the Docklands Light Railway have been travelling on driverless trains since 1987.” Says Sarah. “These two examples alone tell me that we are pretty comfortable when it comes to sharing our lives with robots, and as long as humans stay in ultimate charge we can look forward to many other such innovations in the years to come.”
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