History has shown us that automation does not eliminate jobs for humans workers. Instead, automation makes work environments safer for people, and it allows people to make better use of their time.
Take automatic doors, for example. Automatic doors are so common place that they’re fairly unremarkable by today’s standards. We walk towards the grocery store or airport and simply expect the doors to open for us. George Devol – the same man who invented the world’s first industrial robot – invented the world’s first door automatic door, the Phantom Doorman.
Big deal, right? It’s a simple and obvious use of sensors and servos, and it doesn’t really speak much for the capabilities of automation.
The point is that it was once common to pay a human worker to stand in place for a number of hours and do nothing but smile, chat, and open a door. While automatic doors can’t bare their teeth or hold a conversation, they do the most important part of that job, which is to open the door. This means that instead of doing a simple task that requires no special thought or skills, that person can do something that is more specific to the skill set of a human being
Humans still hold a number of advantages over robots in terms of work, and creativity and critical thinking are two of the big ones.
An automatic door can, quite obviously, open a door, and a human can, just as obviously, open a door as well. However, an automatic door cannot design an automatic door, whereas a human being can.
The automatic door is just one example of how automation can free up human workers to do more specialized, worthwhile things.
Motion control and industrial automation are replacing the need for human workers who carry out simple and repetitive tasks on a production line. Again, these jobs typically do not require the skills of a human worker. This allows – and more importantly encourages – people to focus on the jobs and careers that cannot currently be automated and do require a human touch.
Our current robots cannot build, develop, and improve robotics. This requires human thought, ingenuity, and critical thinking. There have been predictions that robots will eventually get to the point where humans are not needed at all. But that’s a different matter.