The advancement of robotics is unstoppable, and it’s set to change our lives in a huge way. From its potential to overhaul jobs to transform household chores, here’s what you should know.
Formerly confined to the domain of science fiction, robots today are not only a reality, but are in fact poised to transform the global economy. Worldwide spending on robotics in 2015 reached US$71 billion, according to research firm International Data Corporation. It also estimates that this amount will continue to grow at a compound rate of 17 per cent annually to hit US$135.4 billion in 2019.
As robotics continues to advance exponentially, it has also managed to penetrate every industry sector, compelling us to explore the question: What sort of world can be envisioned for future generations when robots are a permanent part of it?
Doomed to fall behind – or liberated to evolve?
The proliferation of robots in world economy has sparked global controversy and elicited deeply divided opinions over its impact on the future of jobs, even among industry experts. Many predict that robots and artificial intelligence will displace human workers, depriving them of employment and eventually leading to income inequality so massive it will result in societal breakdowns.
This view is not unwarranted: Gartner predicts that a third of all jobs will be automated by software, robots and machines by 2025. While manual labour such as product assembly in the manufacturing sector has already been taken over by robots, in the future we can also expect machines to be able to perform a variety of tasks across a wide range of occupations, such as taxi drivers, accountants, financial analysts and more.
The other school of thought, however, is more optimistic. While agreeing that the robotics revolution is likely to replace a significant number of jobs, it also holds faith in the ability of humans to create more job opportunities than are displaced by machines – just like it’s done since the Industrial Revolution.
As recent as 10 years ago, there were professions that didn’t exist but today are in high demand, such as data scientists, social media managers and electric car technicians. While robotics will certainly upheave many different sectors, humans can also look to evolving their skillsets to adapt to a more sophisticated, exciting and modern environment.
Enhancing our lives outside work
Apart from the workplace, the advancement in robotics also promises a slow but radical influence on daily life. In Singapore, androids are leading exercise sessions for the elderly, while in Japan, nursing care robots are being developed to enable a more independent lifestyle for the elderly. These robots are able to assist senior users in multiple ways, including excretion disposal and mobility functions.
The average household is also likely to experience an upgrade with robotics, especially where tedious household chores are concerned. Vacuum-cleaner robots are already commonplace, but last year’s unveiling of the laundroid – the world’s first automatic laundry-folding robot – is promising even more help in homes. Created by Panasonic in collaboration with Seven Dreamers and Daiwa House, the laundroid takes on all laundry-related tasks such as washing, drying and even folding clothes for the user.
Needless to say, being able to entrust common household chores to automatons frees up more time for people to spend on more meaningful and enjoyable activities. If there’s one advantage of robotics that everyone can agree on, this has to be it.
The robotics revolution is going to dramatically change the way we live. In the near future, we can expect robotics to have an impact upon every industry and many common lifestyle activities, from driving a vehicle to assisting the aged.