Robot Workers and Human Jobs: About the May-June 2013 FUTURIST
As much as some people may not like it, we’re going to need robots to perform a lot of the tasks for which humans are not available. Populations are aging, and human labor is getting more expensive for manufacturing the things that economies want consumers to keep buying, so a fleet of smaller, smarter, more agile robots could be a boon.
In the May-June 2013 issue of THE FUTURIST, Roomba developer Rodney Brooks introduces an industrial robot called Baxter, the star product of his new company, Rethink Robotics. Its sensor and its intuitive programming make Baxter an ideal co-worker (not a total replacement) for humans on the factory floor, says Brooks. See Robots at Work: Toward a Smarter Factory.
But wait, what about jobs for people? As machines continue to supplant human workers in performing increasingly complex tasks, people will need to find ever more creative ways to remain employable. In fact, creativity itself is one of the “highly human skills” that will keep us in demand in the future economy, says workforce consultant Richard W. Samson.
Businesses, too, can gain a competitive edge by aggressively “off-peopling” the tasks that machines can do more efficiently and affordably, and leveraging their highly human qualities, such as compassion and sense of responsibility. See Highly Human Jobs.
One “knowledge job” that you may be surprised to see automated is that of music mogul. Data analysis of why popular music is popular—its rhythms, pitch, chord progressions, and so on—turns out to be an excellent prognosticator for hit songs, reports tech journalist Christopher Steiner. At the same time, the music business will remain wide open for human innovators and disruptors. See Pop Goes the Algorithm.
A “highly human” economy may mean that the twenty-first century will be the century of the woman. In its survey of global trends, The Futures Company observes that women represent the world’s greatest underdeveloped source of labor and thus an untapped source of economic growth. Despite disparities in women’s social and political status around the world, their continued advances in economic participation and decision making will have an impact on organizations, institutions, and nations. Women are becoming innovative agents of change, and not merely adapters and consumers of the status quo. See Women 2020: Our Selves, Our Worlds, Our Futures.
Cynthia G. Wagner is Editor of THE FUTURIST.
- About WFS
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
- History of WFS
- Board and Council
- Press Room
- Futurist Gear
- Are You the Next CEO of the World Future Society?
- Book a WFS / Futurist Magazine Speaker
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
December 12, 2013 - Some food for thought before the arrival of Christmas 2013 and the developing of resolutions for the coming year 2014.
What is in our near future? What I hope and what I think are two different things. As a result I ask and suggest some answers to these three questions:
December 12, 2013 - Yesterday I wrote about Memoir, a smartphone app that creates a living diary of things past and present, organizing what you have seen, where you have been and who you have met without you doin
SYSTEM FAILURE. A simple two-word error message summarizes virtually every major news headline over the past five years. In fact, it is difficult to name a single public institution which we hold in high esteem. Government. Healthcare. Education. Religion. Even libraries are being brought into question regarding their relevance for the future. How did we get here?
December 11, 2013 - Do you keep a diary? I did when I was a lot younger but not today. My daughter continues to keep a diary and goes back to read her entries. In fact on vacations she often brings her diaries as reading material.
How sustainable is cloud computing? That’s a question worth asking following a Cisco engineer’s public forecast that
December 11, 2013 - The world is awash in plastic of which clear polymers represent the dominant material particularly in bottles. The residue of these can take a half millennia to breakdown but not to worry.
December 11, 2013 - In this final installment on Africa's rivers and how climate change may impact the watersheds, biodiversity and human populations that rely on them, we look at Sub-Saharan West Africa including the Niger, Senegal and Volta river basins.
The world around us is changing rapidly, although anyone who has been around a while on this planet recognizes that in one way or another, discontinuous change is the status quo. What really matters is what that change is made of and how much of a role we play in shaping it.