By: Jason Erickson | TechSwarm –
The topic of robotics is a contentious one on many levels, but especially so when it comes to robots in the workforce. Predictions have been made such as those by Professor of Computer Science, Moshe Vardi, when he stated that all human work will be fully outsourced to robots and robotic machine intelligence by 2045; while others suggest that some sectors could see full replacement within five years. In fact, the robotics industry notched record sales in the first half of 2014 in North America, and there appears to be no indications of a slowdown.
For example, security robots are already in widespread use and are threatening to further displace the human workforce. Britain recently unveiled its first robot security guard. “Bob” is the outcropping of a worldwide initiative into robotic security set to appear at prisons, care facilities, and schools. At $4 per hour fixed cost, “Bob” could significantly impact the 1.5 million humans that are currently employed in some form of security patrol.
Now the retail home improvement and appliance chain, Lowe’s, is testing a bilingual robotic staff member to assist with order fulfillment. They have partnered with Fellow Robots and Singularity University to introduce Autonomous Retail Service Robot (ARSR) technology beginning at a store in San Jose, California.
Four robots are being tested an Orchard Supply Hardware store owned by Lowe’s Companies Inc. in San Jose, California.
The robots dubbed OSHbots look like white columns with two large black screens on either side of them, and wheels to help them move. They are equipped with 3D cameras so they can scan and identify items. And customers can research items they want to buy on their screen. Then the robot can lead them to the aisle where an item is located…
“People can come in with a random screw and say Mr. Robot, I need more of these, and if we do have it in the store, they can find it,” Nel said. The robots can speak in English and Spanish. (Source)
While debate still rages over the impact that robotics and A.I. will have on the global economy, there is no doubt that robotic systems continue to proliferate. Combined with a struggling economy that has forced a widening group of highly educated workers into lower wage jobs – such as customer service at Lowe’s – that, too, appears to be on the chopping block.
What is your opinion? Do you fear robot replacement in your own line of work? Have you already seen a shift at your place of employment? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.