When people hear about the rise of robots, they can mistakenly become confused with androids such as those in sci-fi shows like Westworld or Humans and think that those things are far in the future.
In fact a ‘robot’ can indeed be anything that performs the work that a human used to do – it doesn’t even need a physical presence and could just be software.
They have been silently making their way into the workforce for some years, if you stop and look you will find that they are actually all around you already:
When you go to the supermarket, you will likely see an increasing number of robot tills have replaced the humans.
Indeed, in one of my local large supermarkets it is difficult to find an open till first thing in the morning – all that is open are the robot tills.
I do tend to do most of my shopping online though to reduce the cost and environmental impact – the supermarket I use, Ocado, has many robots working in their warehouse today:
When you go to the petrol station, many now have ‘pay at pump’ so you don’t even need to go inside. (However, this could cost the station in lost sales as you won’t be in the shop.)
At one airport newsagent, they have replaced what used to be at least 3 staff with just one and a couple of robot tills. The robots handle the checkout, while the one worker stocks the shelves – having to go back to the tills if there is a problem that the robots can’t handle.
If you ever visit Japan, they are the home to the robot with scores of vending machines everywhere, from cities to rural locations. There are even vending machine restaurants where you can eat a full meal all prepared by robots:
As a frequent visitor to Spain, I noticed some time ago that all the motorway toll booths had been replaced by robots:
However you have lots of foreign tourists unfamiliar with the currency trying to get the right amount into a robot machine. At least with a human operator they could give you change easily, no matter what you gave them. It was also nice to interact with a local, even if it was just a cheery ‘Hola’ when you gave them the money.
Also, somewhat of a crazy decision to be taken by the company when you consider the high unemployment rate and the exceedingly high youth unemployment rate.
I’ve also noticed the same thing happening in car parks, with robots replacing the cashiers. The machines only accept small notes, so you end up having to search around for a roving cleaner/cashier or leave to find change.
When I was looking at cars, the model I nearly chose was the Auris Hybrid Excel – as standard this has technology that will park the car for you. Just drive near to a space and the robot driver will park the car. When you want to leave, it will then get the car out of the space for you. This is on a mainstream average family car, there are many other more advanced systems available today.
Tesla cars will take themselves out of the garage for you, drive you to work and find a space and park – right now, not in the future:
When it comes to aeroplanes, we’ve all heard about the autopilots that for many years have been able to fly the plane around the world for you. But for some time there has also been automatic landing available too:
If you go to a big branch of a high street bank, you will likely be welcomed into a room full of robots by a human assistant. The robots perform all the tasks that the bank tellers used to, such as paying money in or taking money out.
With the removal of many local bank branches we will see people being able to pay in cheques to their account just by taking a picture on their mobile phone.
Robots could already be deciding who gets to work:
Perhaps the CV’s that are submitted for a job are scanned for keywords by a robot. Only those that have specific keywords or numbers of them get to progress to the next stage.
For some positions the next step in the application process is an online psychometric test – marked by robot.
So it could be the third stage before people even see another human, up to then any rejections are all done by robot – even the letter or email can be written by robot.