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The Rise of Robots

By: Mohamed Ali Affes

Empowered with improved sight, mobility and, in some instances self-learning capability, new robots are coming to workplaces everywhere. Today, they are assisting workers in hospitals, hotels, airports and retail shops to lift and transport objects, perform precise surgical procedures, or observe and analyze data for security purposes.

The first wave of robotics, was about mechanization on the factory floor, while the second wave was about making robots easier to program. A new wave of collaborative robots is taking over today, where they can assist in dangerous settings or disaster sites. This new wave represents the third stage of robot innovation.

Not surprisingly, the robotics market is growing at a compound rate of 17% per year, according to research group IDC and Bank of America [1]. Merrill Lynch has forecast a $67 billion robot and AI market by 2025.

source : Robotics Business Review[1]

While this seems to be exiting on a first thought, experts believe we will also need to consider the implications of robotics on employment. It is unquestionable that robots can help to dramatically lower production costs. But that inherently involves reducing the number of people required to do a job. Projections about this impact vary. In its report [2], Forrester Research predicts that automation will result in 22.7 million jobs lost by 2025, 13.6 million new jobs created, and that 25% of all jobs will be transformed.

The BBC assembled a handy guide [3] that calculates which jobs are likely to be automated in the next 20 years, based on data from a 2013 Oxford study. Here is part of the report the calculator spits out for that job: as an example, a waiter has a 90% likelihood of being automated. However, a journalist has only an 8% likelihood of automation.


Waiter vs. Journalist risk automation, source : BBC[3]

Certainly it is not man versus machine yet. Nevertheless, no matter the risk is , we should definitely look at the rise of robots as an intellectual challenge. We need to restructure our economy and society to deal with this. If planned correctly, automation would help us live in a era where we all have a lot more leisure time.


[1] M. Framingham, “IDC Forecasts Worldwide Spending on Robotics to Reach $135 Billion in 2019 Driven by Strong Spending Growth in Manufacturing and Healthcare,” 24 February 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS41046916.
[2] J. P. Gownder, “The Future Of Jobs, 2027: Working Side By Side With Robots,” 3 April 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.forrester.com/report/The+Future+Of+Jobs+2027+Working+Side+By+Side+With+Robots/-/E-RES119861
[3] Nassos Stylianou, Tom Nurse, Gerry Fletcher, Aidan Fewster, Richard Bangay and John Walton., “Will a robot take your job?,” 11 September 2015. [Online]. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34066941.

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