You ask Siri to schedule your day instead of a human assistant; you rely on your coffee maker to start up automatically without any instruction, and now even your clothing is being turned into smart technology that can send immediate information to your doctor about your condition.
Our lives are becoming more automated every day, but how much will be automated, and how will it affect us? Here are a few examples:
- Our Transportation
We’ve already seen the emergence of self-driving cars, but companies are looking to take the technology a step further with self-driving semi-trucks. With the ability to drive much longer without the need for pit-stops or mandatory breaks, these trucks could transport goods much faster and for much less than a human-operated machine could. But that’s not all – most semi-truck accidents are a product of human error, something a self-driving truck would lack, saving lives and saving the cost of damages.
- Our Construction Work
Harvard created a series of small robots that were able to construct many different structures without any guidance from humans or even a plan to follow. Using machine learning technology, the robots studied the patterns and behaviors of termites and then replicated their process – effectively eliminating the need for humans both in assistance and in education. This could mean our greatest buildings and our simplest houses are built not by an engineer, but by a machine.
- Our Home Upkeep
There are some household chores that have always been ingrained in daily life, but technology is automating that too; in some cases, it already has. The Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner that uses sensors to create a digital map of the room to avoid furniture and stairs, has the ability to completely vacuum any room it’s set in, from your living room to your garage. Yet this is only one example of many; the Automower, for example, is a smart lawn mower that can keep your lawn mowed and manicured without any human involvement, using the same concept as the Roomba, but improved.
How Will This Affect Us?
- More Diversity in Products
Since manufacturing products will be made faster and more effective, this will allow businesses to turn their eyes away from maintaining the norm and instead offer a far wider range of products at a greater level of quality. Additionally, transporting goods will be easier, resulting in different products being available across regions that were otherwise too costly to export to.
No doubt there will be a lot of humans with a lot of free time as robots continue to take over the tasks we once saw as mandatory. Machines replacing us in the job market will see many people out of work, and unemployment will be a very real issue for those who found their skills not only out-done but out-done faster and for free by technology. This could lead to economic ruin if humanity doesn’t exercise our exclusive and unique creativity to find a solution.
- New Job Opportunities and Greater Creativity
However, since this technology is eliminating the necessity of human involvement, it is giving us new opportunities. With the free time granted by a lack of mundane chores or jobs, hopeful entrepreneurs will no longer be held back by simple “blue collar” jobs – and instead be better able to embrace their visions of building a business or creating prototypes of their own, with the technology making the journey to success faster and more affordable. Students will have to focus their careers on more technical fields, becoming the engineers, software designers, all flash array experts, and inspiring inventors that build, maintain, and advance the very technology that “took away” a different job opportunity.
More than simply changing our economy and the way we work, the future of automation will change how we ourselves think. Anyone who’s seen a child try to zoom in the pages of a paperback with their fingers realizes the mindset of the modern age is different than the one before. But this isn’t a bad thing. Rather than these innovations handicapping us, they put us one step farther forward than before so that newer, more creative solutions and inventions can be found.
What do you think about all this automation? Does it make life easier or just leave us isolated? Let us know in the comments.
~ Rick Delgado