If modern history has taught us anything, it’s that robots are very good at competing against humans. Throughout the last few centuries, we’ve seen companies replacing standard workers with machines which work faster, have fewer errors, and receive no pay. These changes demolished routine tasks and helped us shape an advanced, productive world, while also demanding that society adapt and keep up with the pace. There are many jobs you might not have considered that have been replaced by automation.
The manufacturing industry is probably one of the fields most benefited from technology at the moment. As more products are being created/demanded, and more electronics and mech were needed, manufacturing enterprises have opted for the use of big machines to perform repetitive and mundane processes and tasks without errors. They’re able to do this in great quantity, and with little to no human interaction. This is the oldest and most recurrent form of automation.
Before, it used to be very time-consuming for the letter carriers to do their job. Usually, they had to spend several hours manually sorting out mail in the office. Postal workers these days can receive sorted bundles of letters and mail in no time, so they can make an efficient use of their workday by delivering much faster.
Customers were searching for a way to get through checkouts faster, so technology became very useful. Many workers have been exchanged with touchscreens and self-checkouts that are now found in nearly every grocery store. While human cashiers still account for a big amount of workers, they are fortunate that they haven’t been completely replaced. This is mostly in part to shoppers who continue to value good customer service and person-to-person interactions.
Researchers and analysts
A bot can rapidly dig through millions of documents, web pages and data in order to find patterns and discover email addresses, phone numbers, and every type of useful information with no effort. This is a task that would be impossible for a person alone, so law firms, financial corporations, programmers and the justice department had relied on them for years now.
Typing jobs are becoming obsolete as voice recognition and speech synthesis systems evolve. This will be a more powerful tool in the future, because if perfected, we might find it replacing subtitlers, transcriptionists and translators, jobs currently demanded all around the globe due to the growth of media.
Making farming more efficient is an actual priority with issues like the rising global population and farm labor shortage. The development of drones, automated tractors and robots capable of harvesting, seeding and weeding are helping to define a new wave of “Smart Farming.” It’s already reducing labor costs and the necessary manpower needed to satisfy the needs of the agriculture industry.
Even though automation used to mean “machines doing simple or repetitive tasks” like the ones mentioned above, things are changing right in front of our eyes. Engineers have founds ways of creating accurate machines which are able to realize highly-skilled jobs, replicating abilities we thought made us human. Robots are meeting more of their potential in ways we didn’t expect: today, hey can land aircrafts, realize complex surgeons, diagnose illnesses, trade stocks and cook by perfectly following recipes, for example. They still have plenty of things to refine, but experiments like these have been mostly successful. We can even expect ubers, taxi and bus drivers to be replaced by self-driven transports in the near future.
It’s impossible to say if this is going to create a positive or negative impact, but we humans will have to rely on innovation to create new opportunities that help us face those challenges, just as we’ve done before. If we keep working together with technology instead of being outperformed by it, we might be able to change the world, once again.