Interactive or connected robotic devices are a growing market. JIBO, Keecker, and others are shipping now. There are also, a growing number of soon to be shipping robots that offer some interesting capabilities. Lummo is a robot from the makers of the SEGWAY, a robot that encompasses the future state of personal locomotion and interactive robotics. There is, of course, the long-stated fear (Robots will take my job. Robots will replace me). It is, as one of the twins said, the economy changes. The evolution of the economy continues, and the twin was right. I understand that there is a fear of Robots taking our jobs, but the other side of what we may achieve and what we will be freed from is simply incredible.If I think about the changing economy, I realize that there are jobs at risk. Repetitive jobs and can be replaced with a robot that reduces the cost of goods sold is good for the economy (but not good for the workers). In fact, if we think about it, the assembly line work that can be replaced by a robot today will require a robotic repair person (Software, hardware, and integration) that is going to get paid a premium. The factory cannot afford to be down, which creates the need for the higher paying services jobs. There won’t be as many of those jobs as there is the actual factory floor assembly line. There would still be a need for a quality control person, and a couple of people that understand how the line works, to reset the robots when errors occur.
Where there are 100 people operating the line today, there will probably be 40 people in the future. The 40 remaining workers will probably make the same amount of money as the 100 did combined (their skills are something that will require training, retraining, and updating). The real question then would be what do we do with the 60 jobs that are lost. First, I am not saying those jobs are going to go away today, or even tomorrow. Many of them will be around for 5 – 10 more years if not more. I am just advocating that we consider what can be done now, to begin solving the problem of lost jobs tomorrow. I started thinking about the digital economy and what jobs are going to become more needed going forward. That, of course, made me realize there are many jobs that robots could quickly replace that would probably, in the long run, be better for the people with the jobs replaced. They can move to jobs with less wear and tear on them, and so on.
I am going to share some of my initial thinking on how we can embrace the new robotic economy in a future post. For now, it is time to start thinking about how can we reduce the impact of the job changes forced by new economic reality.