Summary: Automation has gained increased attention amid the great social distancing experiment sparked by COVID-19. But it’s too early to say whether the pandemic will expedite automation across all industries.
Original author and publication date: ImpactLab – August 26, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: This is a very interesting argument: because we are entering a new normal, the same technology that previously didn’t help us may now become very useful.
From the article:
Depending on who you ask, AI and automation will either destroy jobs or create new ones. In reality, a greater push toward automation will probably both kill and create jobs — human workers will become redundant in certain spheres, sure, but many new roles will likely crop up. A report last year from PA Consulting, titled “People and machines: From hype to reality,” supports this assertion, predicting that AI and automation will lead to a net gain in job numbers. This is pretty much in line with findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a pan-governmental economic body spanning 36 member countries, which noted that “employment in total may continue to rise” even if automation disrupts specific industries.
Automation has gained increased attention amid the great social distancing experiment sparked by COVID-19. But it’s too early to say whether the pandemic will expedite automation across all industries. Recent LinkedIn data suggests AI hiring slowed during the crisis, but there are plenty of cases where automation could help people adhere to social distancing protocols — from robot baristas and cleaners to commercial drones.
Of course, any discussion about automation invariably raises the question of what it means for jobs.
Humans in the loop
As we’re still in the early stages of a broader shift to AI and automation, it’s not easy to fully envisage what new jobs could crop up — and which will be lost.
Slamcore is a London-based startup pushing to commercialize AI algorithms that help robots gain situational awareness from sensor data. Slamcore cofounder and CEO Owen Nicholson says we only have to look at some of today’s jobs to realize how difficult it can be to forecast the future.
“Contrary to some beliefs, I see robots as creating vast amounts of new jobs in the future,” he said. “Just like 50 years ago a website designer, vlogger, or database architect were not things, over the next 50 years we will see many new types of job emerge.”
Nicholson cites robot pilots as an example.
“Ubiquitous, truly autonomous robots are still a long way from reality, so with semi-autonomous capabilities with humans in the loop, we can achieve much better performance overall and generate a brand-new job sector,” he added.
There’s a growing consensus that humans will work in conjunction with robots, performing complementary roles that play to their respective strengths.
San Diego-based Brain Corp recently locked down $36 million to “help meet the growing demand for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)” across industries affected by the pandemic — from health care to retail. Brain Corp is the company behind BrainOS, an operating system that integrates with hardware and sensors and serves as the “brains” for delivery robots used in warehouses, factories, and retail stores. BrainOS also powers self-driving floor cleaners that assist human workers. The machines come equipped with a range of sensors, including lidar and 3D time-of-flight (ToF) sensors, to self-navigate in dynamic environments.