A study from Oxford Economics concluded that robots could take over 20 million jobs by the year 2030. While robots are currently being used in manufacturing processes, such as the robot arm and algorithms are being used to improve quality control and greatly reduce the stress of the staff, this is throwing a lot of concerns into the air. Many people are, naturally, concerned that their jobs in production lines and even behind the scenes are on the line. But is this actually true?
Is Automation the Death of the Human Worker?
We have seen a rise in systems that automate processes and use advanced control systems that automatically control certain aspects of various back-office functions and factory floor processes, but they can also extend to robotic applications.
When we consider automation in the grandest sense, it’s actually an aid to help human workers do their jobs better. While there’s a lot of concern about so-called Industry 4.0, where the idea of automation is akin to the new Industrial Revolution, there are many reasons that human workers shouldn’t panic. Many machines require human input.
In a technical sense, devices need help relaying the input signal and while many factory machines are built-in with PID control, which continually modulates its own processes, there will always be a demand for industrial electrical services to fix ongoing issues.
Systems Are Human Tools
We worry about machines taking over human roles, and while the technology is continually expanding, and developers are working on aspects of control theory and algorithms to improve these processes, the fact is that modern control over machinery is not quite there yet.
There are significant feedback control systems that are put to use in factories, but electronics are only as good as the human operator. In electronics, a controller will compare the value of output to the reference input, and this control action is not always easily calculated by machinery. The reality is that as machines start to develop more autonomy, this doesn’t render workers redundant.
What’s more, it will require a helping hand on the human side to make sure each item is running as it should, which may result in a reduction of human workers, but not on a widespread scale. When we consider the skills of engineers, and the importance of human input, who has the ability to question and to think laterally, this will fare better than an unemotional machine only able to respond to the commands it has been given.
When you look at the example of a block diagram, which is a very commonly used component in hardware and electronic design, the process may not be recognized by the machine, depending on its level of sophistication. Therefore, when we start to consider automation with this perspective, human input is always valuable.
Will Industrial Automation Put Us Out of a Job?
The worries are unfounded at the moment. While robots may take over 20 million jobs by the year 2030, it is the low-skill jobs that will be taken over first. As automation rises in prominence, it naturally causes concern, but this should spur people on to make themselves more invaluable in industry, but also focus on the art of collaboration, which can be a great way to bolster work-based skills.