Robots are spreading through the workforce. Will they crowd out humans, Robots and another form of Artificial Intelligence are making their way into the workforce. They could be your next employees or your boss.
The Swingobot 2000 was showing off, navigating a busy hallway at Sinai Hospital to scrub the floor. Then Tug, a smaller robot, glided up unexpectedly from behind, returning to the pharmacy after delivering medication to nurses.
Tug was programmed to detect people and other obstacles in its path. It stopped, maneuvered around Swingobot, then continued on its way.
For the Baltimore hospital, and for the robots, too, it was just another day at work.
Before Tug, “we had pharmacy technicians and couriers who would deliver to the floor,” said Lisa Polinsky, assistant vice president for pharmacy services for Lifebridge Health. “It took the technicians away from what they were doing in the pharmacy.”
Robots have long worked on the factory floor, typically bolted to an assembly line, where they can perform repetitive tasks with consistency and precision. Now a newer generation, capable of moving about among people, is finding a wider range of work, in stores, hotels, hospitals, offices, and warehouses. They check inventory, make room service runs, clean floors, deliver medications, linens, and food, and even assist in spinal surgery, never tiring of jobs most people find dirty, tedious, or dangerous.
For some, that’s cause for concern. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that this increasing automation if adopted rapidly, could displace up to 800 million workers — 30 percent of the global workforce — by 2030.
But the institute also emphasized that more occupations would change than be lost because automation would spur demand for millions of additional jobs
Forrester Research estimates that robots and artificial intelligence could eliminate nearly 25 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, but it should create nearly 15 million jobs.
“Often the fears are overblown,” said J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst for Forrester. “In many cases it doesn’t impact the total number of jobs but changes the composition.
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