This is a question that was asked more than 50 years ago: Are robots coming to look for your work?
The fact is, experts stating that automation is a killer of jobs miss an important point. The world needs more buildings, infrastructure and products than people, money or materials to make them.
If you look at infrastructure in the developed world, there are so many things to redo: bridges collapse; the roads are in trouble. In emerging countries, there is a new infrastructure to build: rail, roads, tunnels, bridges. And there is not enough raw material or money available to do things as they have been in the past.
Meanwhile, the world's population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion – with 75% of the inhabitants of the big cities – by 2050. These people, half of whom will be middle-class, will generate more demand for electricity. Energy by buying more cars, more refrigerators, more things.
This may seem worrisome for the planet and its limited resources, but in the future of work, the increase in construction and production could be accomplished with the same resources, or even less, used today. # 39; hui. In an automated world, technology will eliminate inefficiency and waste, and more people will be deployed on more projects.
Robots = New Work
It is true that some unskilled jobs are disappearing due to automation, but that does not mean that there will be a shortage of work. Rather the opposite. For example, as the demand for infrastructure grows, the need for skills to customize, build, manage and maintain systems – such as "cobots," also known as collaborative robots – for these new projects. construction. And thanks to the technology, there will be a decline in construction waste, which will offset the expected costs for the increase in projects. This means that civil and construction companies will be able to build cheaper, less wasteful things, and that they will need less resources to do so, which will allow them to make better use of existing resources.
By automating some tasks, companies can support more projects with the same budget, which means they'll employ more people as they work. So if a civil engineering company does a few projects a year and moves to a highly automated process, then it could do two to three times more projects each year and hire more people to do that work.
Consider this: When ATMs appeared for the first time in 1967, people immediately predicted the end of the bank window. But by the time teller machines became commonplace in the 80s, the number of bank employees increased and continued to increase until the number of employees reached a peak in 2006.
By outsourcing simple withdrawal and depositing transactions to machines, banks could expand their customer base and offer new services such as credit cards, mortgages and IRAs. As a result, cashiers could move to more lucrative sales positions. ATMs did not necessarily do their job. Technology has enabled employees to develop their careers and solve more complex problems. The same will happen with automation in the areas of architecture, infrastructure, construction and manufacturing.
Automation of Sustainable Development
There are massive constraints in the world: limited resources, the impacts of climate change and a growing population. These constraints make it even more critical for industries to decipher the code by building more – better – with less
If construction and manufacturing companies can automate things more efficiently, they can build more sustainably. For example, robotics applied to the construction process will help people reuse materials from existing buildings and infrastructure for much less money. Rather than trying to teach everyone how to create a sustainable practice, computers will help them build sustainably and reliably, which is crucial.
Automation has the power to stimulate new savings around recycling and reuse of things. This could happen in the automotive industry: some would say that the world needs fewer cars, but what would happen if cars were built cheaper, smaller, greener, less electric and less greedy? resources?
There are entire fleets of 15- and 20-year-old metal parts with huge metal cylinder blocks. If automakers could manufacture cars at $ 5,000 or $ 10,000 – replacing internal combustion engines with cheap electric technologies – how much faster would people abandon their old polluting cars?
Electric cars are more complex electronically, but they are less complex from a mechanical point of view. In a highly automated world, automakers could quickly refresh the fleet of cars on the planet while recycling the raw materials hidden in all cars on the road right now.
New Skills, New Industries
Automation will result in two things: it will transform existing industries and create brand new industries. As a result, the future population will have to adapt to a more technologically sophisticated work environment. Workers will spend more time interacting with the technology than today.
The younger generations of designers and manufacturers are already more technologically at ease than previous generations. They have the habit of quickly changing technology and they adapt to changes from one version to the other. This kind of fluidity and adaptability to technology – which will do more for people in the coming years – is key to the future of making things.
Automation will inevitably create another explosion of information technologies such as the smartphone industry and the Internet of Things. And this will create opportunities that have been hard to exploit for human beings because it is easier for automated machines to go first and humans to follow.
I talked about the industrialization of space and the industry that will support it. This is a classic example where automation and robotics will expand human capabilities and create new industries.
Back on Earth, what would happen if someone built a robot able to cross a road, chew asphalt, treat it and re-gear the road with the same material ? Will people find robots like that? Yes, you bet they are.
And people will have to build and maintain these robots, plan and coordinate projects, and install the robots on the sites. If there were repaving robots and building bridges running everywhere as people slept, continually rebuilding and modernizing the existing infrastructure each night, what would the world look like?
Whatever the future of making things, automation will open a world of opportunity. Employees will just need to get comfortable side by side with their cobot colleagues.