What are Cobots: Job Takers or Job Creators?

The question “What are cobots – job takers or creators?” is extremely actual nowadays. With the current emerging interest in all things connected to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cobots and robots in general, it is almost inevitable that people start to second-guess the appropriateness of integrating many of these solutions into the industrial processes.

The main argument against the use of collaborational robots is that in a short time, they will be taking away the jobs of millions of people worldwide, which will result in an unemployment crisis. The fear of new technology is not a recently created phenomenon. It has always been part of the evolutionary process of innovation. 

Our Fear of the Unknown

People tend to base their predictions on the current state-of-the-art technologies to make far-fetched assumptions about the future. Though predictions about the future can sometimes be correct, let’s not forget the time when in the late 19th century London, people estimated, that if the number of horses will increase at the same rate for the following 50 years, the city will be covered with 9 feet of horse manure by the middle of the 20th century (also known as the “The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894”). A critical piece was missing from the equation, which was the invention of automobiles in the early 1900s. An incident like this cautions us not to make overly firm estimations about the future using the currently available technology as a baseline.

The Rates of Automation Across Different Industries 

Although some jobs will be subject to automation, the rate of this will probably not reach even near the levels that are currently predicted by most people. 

According to PwC’s analysis, automation of jobs will arrive in 3 waves, and the rate of change will be much lower in the short-term. The analysis predicts the first wave of automation in the early 2020s’, the second in the late 2020s’, and the third in the mid-2030s’. Only around 3% of the total jobs are at potential risk for automation by the early 2020s, whereas the majority of the changes, around 30% of the jobs, will possibly be automated by the mid-2030s.

Percent of jobs at risk of automation

Source: PwC estimations based on OECD PIAAC data (median values for 29 countries)

Automation rates are also expected to vary significantly by industry sectors. In the short and mid-term, sectors like finances and transportation are expected to be affected more. This is due to the use of complex finance algorithms and the increased automation of vehicles.

However, sectors like healthcare and education, where human touch and social skills are essential, will possibly not experience much automation of jobs. It is more likely that robots will be supporting the work of employees in these sectors instead.

What are cobots: Your New Friends at Work? 

what are cobots
(Source: Pixabay)

Cobots, or also known as “Collaborative Robots” are also used more frequently alongside human workers, instead of replacing them at their jobs. These robots are specifically designed to work in the same environment with employees, making their work more productive by taking over tasks from them. This allows employees to focus on more value-adding activities that require the intelligence and the creativity of the human mind. Because of this, a great number of jobs is expected to be created by robots.

As technology is evolving, on average more people across the globe get to enjoy higher living standards. From the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we progress to higher layers, where more people will get to focus their efforts and work on activities that add more value to the world. Cobots and robots are an integral part of this process of freeing people from dangerous, hazardous, manual, and repetitive labor, so we get to focus on tasks that make a difference.

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