Robot: Friend or Enemy?

Let’s get clear on one thing. The robots are coming. And there is no avoiding it. Personally, I like robots. (I feel it’s important for me to say so – they could be reading this right now!)Robot

Yet with Terminator, The Matrix, and that new show Westworld, it’s hard to feel completely comfortable about a future shared with robots. So many stories and mindsets revolve around the idea of robot overlords – merciless machines who feel no pain or emotion -coming to turn us into their minions!

In Japan, robots are used in restaurant kitchens to make sushi and chop vegetables. Hospitals can program robots to distribute medication to patients. There is a barista robot that specializes in making coffee, and a bar-tending robot claiming to save up to 20 percent on the cost of spilled drinks. Let’s not forget those robotic vaccums that terrify our pets, or the self-driving trucks starting to appear on the roads.

There are some jobs that definitely won’t go to robots anytime soon. One common test robots can’t seem to do well? Distinguish a 9-pound baby from a 9-pound sack of flour. So I guess that means robot nannies are out of the picture.

Meanwhile, a large percentage of us are at risk for automation. According to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte, about 35% of current jobs are at high risk of computerization over the following 20 years. Type your job title into the search box on this webpage and find out the likelihood of your job being automated in the next couple of decades!

But fear not – we have some pretty amazing advantages over robots. We’re self-healing, for one. If a robot gets a virus, it’s out of commission until someone comes along and fixes it. Furthermore, robots can’t learn like humans can! When it comes to jobs that require problem solving and complex critical thinking, the human brain beats out the robot ‘brain’ any time since robots have to be completely reprogrammed in order to ‘learn’ a new skill.Robot

According to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, our most advanced robots have the collective intelligence and wisdom of a lobotomized mentally challenged cockroach. Until robots are intelligent enough to process, rationalize, empathize, and create, there will still be a need for human workers.

Still, as humans and robots begin to co-mingle, life in the workplace will only get more interesting. From the little droids in Star Wars, to the Pixar friends in Wall-E, robot coworkers might be just as (if not more) likeable than our human counteparts! Think about it. You could learn a new language when your robot cubiclemate comes in to talk about his weekend in beeps and boops. And, if your lunch goes missing from the fridge, at least you’ll know your robot coworker wasn’t the one who ate it!

Make friends with a Roomba this weekend,