by Dr. Iris Marie Mack, PhD, EMBA
The algorithms of a robot are progressively advancing, making the automation of more tasks possible, and, eventually, many occupations are likely to become obsolete (Mack, 2017). Robots can perform repetitive tasks, which are tiresome and prone to mistakes when done by humans, faster and without errors. Because of that advantage, they are taking over many tasks in many industries, lowering wage costs, and improving efficiency. Let’s look at some examples.
The manufacturing sector was the first one to introduce robots to perform repetitive tasks such as assembling vehicles and other products. Up to 2007, each industrial robot replaced about 6 workers (The Economist, 2017). By 2030, robots may replace 20 million manufacturing workers (Cellan-Jones, 2019).
Some management level positions are being displaced by robots, artificial intelligence and automation decision-making to save time and to reduce human emotional volatility. Humans will design the critieria by which artificial intelligence systems make decisions and intervene on an as needed basis (Flaherty, 2019).
The financial services industry has already replaced many workers with robots. For example, bank tellers have been replaced with automated teller machines in the 20th century. Data entry staff who perform repetitive accounting tasks have been displaced by robots that can automatically answer routine questions, reducing manual labor hours. In addition, asset managers have announced that robots will replace stock pickers. (Bowen, 2019), (Brewer, 2019), (Phaneuf, 2019)
Online marketing is using chatbots to automatically handle routine customer queries and share articles on websites, online stores, and social media. They improve customer engagement and satisfaction and reduce human resource needs. (Kim, 2018), (Rojas-Tepepa, 2019)
The retail industry use robots to pack goods on shelves, scan shelves for empty spots, and scan floors for broken jars and then report to humans for action (JGendron, 2019). Amazon is already testing the use of robots for deliveries to Amazon Prime customers in Southern California (Nichols, 2019). Already, the jobs of packers and delivery personnel are at risk. (Petrovic, 2019), (Ryan, 2019)
The medical industry has been using surgical robots in low-invasive procedures for more than 10 years. Soon, there will be robots to draw blood, check vital signs, give medicines, perform more precision surgery, clean floors, and keep patients company. Most of these tasks are tiresome and repetitive, so they will be delegated to robots that never complain or tire. (Cohetero, 2019), (Duchier, 2019), (Medical Futurist, 2019)
Therapists utilize human-like “social robots” to help teach social behavior to autistic children and to provide companionship for the elderly with dementia. The United States military also uses computer-generated virtual therapists to screen soldiers for PTSD. (Huembes, 2019)
Administration and accounting are also being automated. According to WorkFlowWise, 91% of 500 billion invoices are still prepared manually worldwide, matched to purchase orders, and captured into a system. Robots can do that faster and error-free and generate reports. In this area, about 97% of the jobs are at risk (WorkFlowWise, 2017).
Insurance companies are already using robots for claims handling (Dietz, 2018). Global insurer, Zurich Insurance Company Limited in Switzerland has automated its local policy issuance processes and is realizing 50% reduction in costs (Finance TnT). A Japanese insurance company replaced 34 claim jobs with one robot, costing $1.7 million once-off and saving $1.1 million per year in salaries (Gershgorn, 2017). If this happens in many insurance companies, robots will displace millions of workers. Soon, they will be used for more than 200 processes! (Digital Workforce), (Sotero, 2019)
Some leading hotels are already using robots as concierges, butlers (for room deliveries), front desk staff, and luggage carriers. Robots free up human time for other tasks and leave guests with a positive experience. (Social Tables), (Noone, 2019)
The food industry is gradually replacing humans with robots. Automation potential to replace waiting staff in New York City is 77%, rising to 87% if food preparation is included (Chaban, 2018). The potential is possibly this high worldwide. Fast food and pizza joint workers are already losing their jobs to ordering kiosks and robotic cooks. (Artigues, 2019), (Beltis, 2019)
Agriculture is already using robots on large commercial farms for autonomous mowing, pruning, seeding, spraying, thinning, harvesting, picking, weed control, phenotyping, sorting, packaging, and utility platforms. This is helping with the labor shortage in the agriculture industry and also replacing many workers. Scientists use drones to inspect research fields to check crops for gaps, height, moisture content, diseases, and other factors. This used to require many technicians spending many hours to check crops manually. (Gosset, 2019), (Romaguera, 2019)
Teaching may benefit immensely from using robots as teaching assistants. It is predicted that by 2027, robots will be greatly involved in education. Whether they can completely replace the warmth and motivation that a teacher gives to young children remains to be seen. They are already being tested in Finland for teaching language and mathematics in schools (Reuters, 2018), and they are already being used to teach English in Japan and South Korea. (Hornyak, 2010), (Hamakawa, 2018), (Medina, 2019)
Legal services have benefited from the applications of artificial intelligence and robotics for quite some time. For example, DoNotPay has helped to overturn tens of thousands parking tickets around the globe. In addition, software has been utilized for the discovery process in lawsuits, to comb through emails, texts, databases and scanned documents – taking the place of paralegals. (Mack, 2017), (Greenfield, 2019)
The transportation industry is utilizing robots in a variety of ways. Some companies are delivering packages with drones. Robots are expected to replace thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers. There are still problems with regulation and safety but it appears that taxis and city buses will be automated, possibly by the early 2020s. (McColley, 2019)
The aviation industry‘s goal is to automate the entire piloting process. Perhaps the air force planes to begin first. The U. S. Department of Defense has tested a robot pilot called the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS). It uses a number of cameras to monitor gauges and switches in the aircraft, and an arm to control the navigation throttles. The robot will manage the plane while the human pilot focuses on other duties such as data gathering and reconnaissance. In addition, Boeing aircraft manufacturer has been using robots for several years. (Drumm, 2019)
The music industry‘s rising sensations may be robots? Computer algorithms are seeping into the music business to help with talent spotting, promotion and even composition in the industry. One of the many jobs in the music industry that are being taken over by robots is DJs. (Tran, 2019)
The publishing industry utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology such as Reportermate to quickly analyzes large sets of data to produces articles and essays. This AI system can take on routine monotonous jobs, hence allowing humans to engage in more creative tasks. (Varon, 2019)
The construction industry has been greatly impacted by robotics and artificial intelligence. Robotics are used to get work done quicker, cheaper and with more precise detail. Robots are able to take over many simple construction jobs previously held by humans. (Zampino, 2019)
Conclusion While robots improve efficiency in operations, they are replacing many jobs in many industries, and they will continue to do so as more industries adopt them. More information on how robotics are displacing workers in many other industries around the globe may be found in the references.
Artigues, S. and A. Baldwin, C. Bell, B. Akalin, J. Biton, M. Camus, E. Burgess, Robots in the Food Industry – Pros and Cons, November 2019.
Beltis AJ, Toast, Robots in restaurants: How automation has changed the game for 6 companies, May 2019.
Bowen, M. and S. Bias, J. Berru, S. Bernal, G. Arguello, J. Attias, R. Autnereith, Benefit or Threat? How Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are Changing the Finance Industry and Your Jobs, November 2019.
Brewer, Z. and D. Burd, M. Bush, A. Cancienne, G. Campbell, A. Castilo and Timothy Cameron, How Will Robots Impact The Future of Asset Management, November 2019.
Cellan-Jones, Rory, BBC News, Robots to replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030, June 2019.
Chaban MAV. Center for an Urban Future, Work to do: How automation will transform jobs in NYC. January 2018.
Cohetero, M. and N. Cooper, S. Davis, M. Detweiler, J. Diez, M. Robelo, The Invasion Of The Medical Robots, November 2019.
Dietz R. Raimondo C and Kremer J. Insurance Thought Leadership. How robotics will transform claims. June 2018.
Digital Workforce, Intelligent automation solutions in insurance.
Drumm, A. and D. Espino, J. Hackett, Z. Holloway, S. Huddell, A. Hurtado, D. Huynh, Automation of the Aviation Industry: Are Robots Taking Over the Aviation Industry?, November 2019.
Duchier, A., Medicine Man vs Robots, November 2019.
Finance TnT. RPA in Action: Innovative ways five financial services companies are using automation.
Flaherty, D. and T. Fleming, A. Garcia, J. Gaspard, B. Gentile, L. Gill, L. Goldenberg, Management Jobs Taken Over By Robots, November 2019.
Gershgorn, D., Quartz, Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence, January 2017.
Gosset, S., Built In, How farm robots are revolutionizing agriculture, June 2019.
Hamakawa, T., Japan Forward, Japanese school kids learn English from AI robots, November 2018.
Hornyak T., CNet, Korean schools welcome more robot teachers, December 2010.
Huembes, A. and A. Ibranovic, S. Johnson, E. Jones, J. Jones, A. Juarez, C. Kinneman, Artificial Therapy? Impact Of Robotics On The Therapy Industry, November 2019.
JGendron, RobotShop, How Today’s Robots Are Revolutionizing Retail Stores, June 2019.
Kim L., Chatbots Magazine, 11 Amazing facts you might not know about chatbots, June 2018
Mack, I. M., Man versus Machine: Are robots taking over more jobs by the day? November 2017.
Medical Futurist, From surgeries to keeping company: The place of robots in healthcare, October 2019.
Medina, A. and E. Martinez, J. Matthews, B. Lopez, J. Manheimer, K. Koslov, N. Larkins, Impact of Robots in Education, November 2019.
McColley, S. and C. Kuchler, C. Johnson, W. Mentz, C. May, J. Lenyk, J. Mejia, How Will Robotics Impact the Transportation Industry?, November 2019.
Nichols, G., ZDNet, Amazon delivery robots are officially on the streets of California, August 2019.
Noone, M. and S. Mork, D. Moad, Z. Muller, R. Oufnac, J. Middleton, R. Morrison, Robots in the Hospitality Industry; The Questions That Should be Asked, November 2019.
Petrovic, K. and L. Pino, T. Pol, J. Piaseckyj, A. Pena, J. Rabin, G. Porges, Online Retail: Selling Products and Your Jobs, November 2019.
Phaneuf, A. Business Insider, Examples and use cases of robotic process automation (RPA) in banking, September 2019.
Reuters, New York Post, Finland schools are testing out robot teachers, March 2018.
Rojas-Tepepa, K. and W. Rossi, I. Rupiper, S. Rockwell, K. Rios, C. Ruiz, P. Roberts, Will Digital Marketing Robots Take Over the World?, November 2019.
Romaguera, S. and L. Rey, M. Schoen, B. Thomas, G. Trastoy, L. Trosclar, C. Venn and J. Wilkins, Robot Invasion in the Agricultural Field, November 2019.
Ryan, N. and A. Sariego, A. Davila, R. Selvaggi, D. Smith, H. Serro, J. Sarti, The Robotic Mailman: The Rise of Robotic ECommerce Era, November 2019.
Social Tables, Robots in hotels: 6 hotel brands leading the way.
Sotero, Y. and C. Mera, S. Morlier, T. Peterson, M. Ramos, I. Recile, K. Reine, Robots and Automation Are Changing The World’s Insurance Industry, November 2019.
The Economist, Will robots displace humans as motorised vehicles ousted horses? April 2017.
Tran, A. and K. Hamilton, T. Thomas, T. Toups, M. Smith, D. Urdanivia, R. Stevens, Music’s Rising Sensation: Robots, November 2019.
Varon, I. and N. Varela, O. Verheyen, Al. Villareal, K. Ware, C. Vidrine, T. Wallace, G. Velazquez, Are Robots Displacing Professionals in the Publishing Industry?, November 2019.
WorkFlowWise, Will robots replace the administrative assistant? July 2017
Zampino, T. and A. Young, F. Wells, J. Wells, R. Zeringue, L. Wiener, M. Zelaya, S. Yacaman, Robotics in Construction: The End of Blue-Collar Work?, November 2019.