Is a Humanoid Robot a Job Threat?

Interesting Engineering suggests that Ameca, a robot that can mimic human facial expressions, is or at least could be a new threat to human workers.

Whether robots will take over human jobs is a big question that comes up frequently in discussions of automation. Robots, we’re told, are tireless, emotionally undemanding, make fewer errors than humans, and are even getting cheaper than people. What’s not to like?

It’s all about skills…

At the same time, researchers have found that robots can only do about 30% of the tasks involved in human jobs. However cheap and willing, robots are just not as good as humans when it comes to manual dexterity, mobility, and creative problem solving. It might be nice that robots don’t need coffee breaks, but they still can’t fold laundry.

Some jobs are more likely than others to be taken over the by robots. Tax accountants and models may be threatened by robots, but surgeons and teachers will be assisted by robots, not replaced.

…or is it?

Ameca has no particular skills. As far as we can tell, she can’t actually do anything we would identify as work. ¬†She can’t even walk. She is a robothespian, a robot actor. But she is an actor only in an extremely narrow sense. People are dazzled by Ameca’s ability to make a recognizable disgusted facial expression, for example, but wouldn’t actually be impressed by a human being who claimed to be an actor on the strength of being able to look disgusted.

Ameca is mostly for entertainment. Her makers suggest that she could be a service robot. Robots have done things like work in the hospitality industry, in hotels and restaurants and even in retail stores. They’ve had limited success. Would you find a robot waiter more satisfactory in that job if it could give a convincing confused expression when it was unable to answer your questions?


While we think about this, we can help you with any service or support needs for your Indramat drive and control systems. We’re Indramat specialists, focusing on factory repair and reman. We can also provide emergency replacement units to help you avoid downtime.