Robots have been in the workforce for decades now. Since the sixties, robotics have been used in factories for heavy lifting and to optimize production. Since that time, artificial intelligence is becoming smarter. As they slowly move into the workplace, robots and computers gain even more skills to push out their human equivalents. More and more scientists and engineers believe that this exponential growth of robot intelligence could lead to all of our jobs potentially being in limbo.
Oxford University released a study claiming that 35 percent of prevailing jobs are at risk to robots over the next two decades. A Bloomberg report suggests robots can replace up to half of US workers within the next 10 to 20 years.
One could argue that a computer itself is an intelligent bot. They can formulate extensive mathematical equations in seconds, which would otherwise take some mathematicians hours, days, possibly even years to solve. Computers are even starting to write better software quicker and more efficiently than computer engineers. A few years ago, IBM created a supercomputer named Watson, which connected directly to the internet. They put it on Jeopardy to play against the best players to ever play the game, and it quickly won by a substantial amount.
Ray Kurzweil is a computer scientist, inventor and futurist. He believes we are on a path in which computing power will eventually surpass human intelligence. When this happens, he figures we will be able to download our consciousness into a computer. This is set to happen by 2045, at which point we will live for eternity through computers.
Robotics has already been used to replace limbs on people, such as arms or legs. They are even getting better than actual human limbs. With 3D printing taking off, along with huge biological advancements, one’s own cells can even be used to re-create pretty well any organ.
Are we on a path to becoming robots? Could this be why humans are here? Is this what will push the human race to advance and evolve into the next type of species? Will this journey force humans completely out of the workforce? Only time will tell.
Here are the jobs most at risk shortly…
With the rise of autonomous vehicles, it seems inevitable that taxi drivers will soon no longer be needed. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have already dramatically damaged the standard taxi business. Not only are taxi drivers at risk, but any delivery person is as well. Everyone from restaurant delivery drivers to FedEx delivery men is going to lose jobs to robots. The early days of self-driving cars are already upon us, and so far, Tesla seems to be winning that race.
Statistics indicate that around 1.3 million people die yearly, not to mention the 20-50 million injured in car accidents each year. Self-driving vehicles will save millions of lives and immensely drive down medical costs.
Take an ATM. Because of them, we do not have to see a bank teller make a transaction anymore. To go even further, we now see self-checkout machines in places like Wal-Mart and other stores, which take away check-out clerks’ jobs. You could literally extend this to any store. Clerks would become robots, and humans would no longer be necessary to do the job. With this in place, any store could remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as robots do not need breaks, and that would be their home.
When it comes to technology, Asian countries always seem to be ahead of the game. Some restaurants in Japan and China are already using robots as waiters, being in Harbin, Heilongjiang, a province in China. Not only do they have 20 robots that bring you food, but they also cook noodles and dumplings for customers. As one enters the restaurant, the robots greet you with a friendly hello, and says, “Welcome to the Robot Restaurant.” As this trend of robot waiters gains more popularity, it most likely won’t be long before it finds its way over to the western world and puts our restaurant jobs in jeopardy. McDonald’s has even begun implementing ordering terminals, reducing the need for cashiers in their restaurants.
Soon we may see machines capable of writing a journalistic story faster and more accurately than any person can. They have already tested software that specializes in machine-generated stories, invented by Northwestern University. The Big Ten Network is an early customer of this. They use it for sports coverage, such as baseball. They said it is far cheaper than employing people. After a game, the scorekeepers submit the data, and the computer fires out a story in minutes.
At this rate, with this type of software, all stories journalists cover may sooner or later be written by computers instead of humans.
Imagine a world where you don’t need to take out a second mortgage on your home to afford a lawyer. Like most of us, one day will likely need a lawyer, even if it is just for a simple signature to buy a house, and it can get pretty pricy to hire one. They can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. A California-based company called Blackstone produced software that analyzed 1.5 million legal documents for less than $100,000, which otherwise would have cost hundreds of dollars per document. As this software gains more traction, it will drive legal prices even lower, and at the same time, you won’t have to sell a kidney to hire a team of lawyers.
Doctors are already using sophisticated machines to perform highly complex surgeries. And in some cases, the doctor does not even have to be in the same room as the patient, and they can be halfway around the world. When you get a blood test, they use machines to see anything wrong with you. As this technology keeps getting better, doctors’ use in specific fields will no longer be necessary.
Picture going into a doctor’s office, describing your symptoms to the robot and maybe giving a quick blood sample or other tests, and you instantly get a diagnosis. This type of situation may sound like a science fiction Star Trek type scenario, but in reality, it does not seem too far from what the future may bring.
“I am not here to build a business; I am not here to build a corporation; Not here to build Schools; I am not here to build churches—I am no Mother Theresa. What I will do, though, is—lead a legacy.”
– Dean Mathers