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By Zachary Smith |  October 28, 2015

The short answer? No. 

The longer answer? They will most likely change your job, most likely for the better/simpler/safer/etc. How do I know this? Historically, that has always been the case. 

Change is scary. Doomsayers always predict the end of times when a new technology is coming out, forewarning the unravelling of society, possibly even revolts. This began at a time when the written word was seen as a detriment to memory. Since then, the same argument has been brought up time and again, most recently in the context of how the Internet is ruining our brains.

But if you look at each new technology, the whole purpose is to improve quality of life. Written and printed word allowed us to begin proper documentation and storage of information, which is directly responsible for technology like Google today. And Google, though possibly shortening our attention span, has opened worlds of research that are easily and repeatedly accessible, forging pathways to people from every walk of life. Seems like a fair trade to me. 

Many robots are being created to take over mundane, unskilled, and dangerous work. Teachers don’t need to grade papers to be teachers; they need to teach skills and information tailored to each student in their care. A robot can mark those exams each week. Electrical engineers do not need to work on live wires and high voltage power lines to be electrical engineers. They can direct drones or other robotics to step in the way of possible electrocution. And let’s not pretend that the best part of your day is data importing and reporting. It’s not, it can be automated, and you can use your valuable time elsewhere. 

What the immediate future holds for us is most likely a partnership with the robots. Creating hybrid positions where we are in control of monitoring data, process, quality control, and more emotionally invested business decisions will help us acheive a better balance. I already do that with marketing automation, as many of you already do that with the Internet of Things. Work has begun to forward this initiative, as displayed in the following video. 

One of the biggest flaws to date with robots is how unaware they are of their surroundings. However, creating technology that can both help us and keep us safer has become a huge point of design for engineers. When dealing with the risk of getting hurt working alongside heavy machinery, technology developing better “coworkers” might make these collaborations a reality.  

Regardless, the newest report from the Association for Advancing Automation says that we are in the clear for now. During non-recessionary periods of years since 1996, the use of robots in manufacturing is associated with increased employment. Why is that if a robot steps in and a person steps out? Well, just think of the sheer amount of jobs that have popped up since 1996, both driven and in spite of technological advancements. Social media, shared economy, smart phones, the Internet, and many more have all eradicated jobs for some and offered new opportunities for others. 

Industrial_Robot_Shipment_vs._Nonfarm_Employment_-_ChartAssociation for Advancing Automation, Robots Fuel the Next Wave of U.S. Productivity and Job Growth

One other thing. Even if robots are taking away jobs, this may be helpful for manufacturing. Every day the age and skills gap widens, and eventually, there will either need to be human bodies that must fill those positions or robots that fill those positions. It may be in our best interest to learn how to integrate and manage them within our systems, because we may not have a choice. This is where the beauty of the Internet of Things comes in, as well as hiring tech savvy millennials. Robots need repair. Robots need set up and direction. Robots need someone to tell them what to do. So instead of worrying about losing your job, be that someone who manages a fleet of robots.

Topics: Manufacturing and Industrial, Engineering, Technology

Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is a print, creative, marketing, and technology writer. Zachary frequently contributes manufacturing and supply chain articles from the millennial perspective to Tom Talks, and will gladly grab a cup of coffee with you some time.

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