Increased automation in business is a double-edged sword — it inevitably leads to fewer job roles for human workers but can increase the quality and affordability of goods and services for consumers.
So here’s a round-up of the pros and cons of three tech trends that are transforming diverse businesses in different sectors.
Ocado Group’s robot grocery pickers can now collate a box of 50 food items in just five minutes — a task that takes two hours in the UK’s online grocer’s older facilities still heavily reliant on human workers.
The firm envisions its army of 1000 robots fulfilling high-volume fresh food orders with the same efficiency as online suppliers that provide non-perishable products.
Ocado also sells automated hardware and software to other retailers — further accelerating the speed of automation across the industry.
Once its new robot-driven facility is fully operational it’ll have the same capacity as the firm’s larger warehouses, but only require a third of the human workforce.
At this rate, it’ll soon be more likely that the food on your plate has been picked and packed by a robot than a fellow human.
As long as firms still have human workers, some sort of HR service will be necessary.
And professionals with the emotional intelligence to provide staff with tailored support throughout their careers might never be replaced adequately with machines.
But these departments also have to sacrifice time to important but draining tasks like payroll and tax compliance.
Some firms are cutting staffing costs while ensuring compliance and efficiency by investing in automated HR software that ensures employees across different geographical territories and tax regimes are paid on time and also offers features like talent management and analytics.
So automation might create smaller HR departments focusing on physical and psychological well-being.
Austrian researchers are recommending a robot for every child to encourage more female students to enter the fields of science, technology, education and maths (STEM).
Women are underrepresented in the fields of AI and robotics globally — so this type of initiative would give females access to robots from childhood, making them more likely to develop an interest in traditionally male-dominated fields.
By exposing children from diverse backgrounds to technology as early as possible, the spread of crucial knowledge will be democratized — so as more jobs are automated fewer people will lose out.
Investing in education could prepare the workforce of tomorrow with the skills necessary to earn a living while introducing a universal basic income might mean citizens whose roles are replaced by robots are assured an acceptable standard of living.
These three tech trends paint a broad picture of the various ways tech is penetrating every aspect of modern life — keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss out on future developments.
Do you think automation will improve life? Share your thoughts in the comments section.