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Should You Replace Your People With Robots?

If you think this question is a joke, I assure you that it isn’t. In an early 21st century world that is hungry for quality products and services delivered in a timely manner, and which also constantly bemoans the lack of work ethic amongst the millennial workforce, companies and human resource professionals like you have very real reasons to look to our machine counterparts for an answer to your labour quandaries.

And before you think that this is an unrealistic modern solution, it is not without precedent. In the 19th century for instance, more than 70 per cent of Americans worked on farms . Since the birth of the industrial revolution, only 1 per cent of their jobs have remained, the rest replaced by machinery and farm automation.

With that said, here are some reasons your business could benefit by replacing your employees with increasingly high-tech robotic A.I.

With machines, progress comes rapidly. Consider how much more memory your computer today has compared to a computer just 15 years go. In fact, between 1960 and 2003, computer memory density has increased by a factor of 5 million! That’s a rate of progress of about 60% year on year . At the same time, the power of CPUs has been increasing about 40% a year for the past 50 years. Looking at those numbers, you could reasonably expect your robot workforce to dramatically outperform humans in no time at all.

Own a smartphone? Of course you do, and it’s a fair guess that you’d probably recognise the name Foxconn. They’re the world’s largest contract manufacturer, and produce a huge number of the smartphones in the market today with their workforce of approximately 1 million humans in China. In 2011, the company installed 10,000 robots called Foxbots, today they install about 30,000 per year. That’s 30,000 jobs a year that humans will not be hired for. Now imagine if each of these Foxbots increased their performance at the same rate of 40% a year.

The use of robots has not been limited to just the manufacturing industry. In 2013 the FDA approved the the Johnson & Johnson Sedasys machine . It’s role is to administer the drug propofol to sedate patients without the need for an anaesthesiologist. The Computer-Aided Diagnosis (CADx) machines have also been proven to perform more consistently in identifying the signs of cancer in the field of radiology by a factor of 10 compared to human radiologists.

With robotic machine intelligence already having a major effect in fields as diverse as manufacturing and medicine, should you really consider ditching your people for robots?

The simple answer is no. Why? Because for the time being, there are jobs in which humans are simply better at than machines.

A drug dispensing robot or CADx machine will never replace a human doctor who is able to make diagnoses by comparing their body of medical knowledge compared against lab results and symptoms as described by patients during simple personal consultations.

Compared to robots, humans are also able to employ advanced if yet unexplained pattern recognition skills which we call intuition. Similarly, therapists, managers, and sales people are jobs which require a distinctly human touch as interacting and communicating with others, influencing behaviour and gathering information are skills yet to be perfected in machines.

Many jobs also require advanced mental abilities. Take jobs as diverse as nurses and plumbers for instance. Both involve a great deal of advanced pattern recognition and problem solving depending on the range of unforeseen challenges faced on the job each day. Robots are still years away from being able to perform anywhere close to what is required. And lets not even consider the cost of developing such a machine.

Perhaps it is of no coincidence that it was NASA – the ultimate symbol of technological advancement – that in a 1965 report advocating manned space flight stated that “ Man is the lowest cost, 150-pound, nonlinear, all-purpose computer system which can be mass-produced by unskilled labour”.

If it works for NASA, why not for your company?

Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is not whether you should replace your staff with robots, but how do you hire more effectively and train your staff to increase their capabilities instead?

At Accendo, we specialise in the tools and technology to do just that. Allowing you to connect, attract, nurture and retain the best people so that your company has what it takes to remain competitive in the highly mechanised 21st century and beyond.

Sources

https://www.wired.com/2012/12/ff-robots-will-take-our-jobs/
https://hbr.org/2014/12/what-happens-to-society-when-robots-replace-workers

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