Machine learning and robotics have made remarkable advancements in the speed and quality of industrial production mechanisms due to innovative technological developments and the emergence of AI.
The technological breakthroughs that automate human tasks to reduce the consistent need for human intervention have revolutionized industries and boosted productivity. Using robots has reduced manufacturing costs and increased efficiency by replacing human labor. But what is the purpose of this automation?
The primary goal of automation remains to bring more precision, innovation, and flexibility to various industrial and technological sectors. Today, machines equipped with AI perform thousands of human tasks ranging from manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, and transportation to entertainment and beyond.
This article addresses how the rise of robots is gradually taking over the world and is here to stay and shape our personal and professional lives.
A Glimpse of the Past: Life Before Automation
The driving force behind our daily work efficiency gave birth to robotics and machine learning advancements. Together these two forces are united to form the revolutionary concept of automation.
But before the use of intelligent machines, there was a life of skilled manual labor. Simple machines and hand tools, levers, pulleys, and animal forces helped us perform challenging tasks at the cost of time and energy. For example, in ancient times, people used water wheels to grind flour or perform other agricultural processes.
This still required human intervention, but this semi-automation concept gave us the snowball effect, where people had something to build upon. Once we had semi-automation, it paved the way for further mechanization, ultimately resulting in the industrial revolution in Western Europe in the 17th century. This industrial revolution progressed towards semi-automation as we came up with steam mills and steam engines that coined the basis of modern industrial automation.
During this phase of automation, we were limited to the idea of machines and robots performing repetitive tasks. Then with the progression of a couple of decades, our technological advancements lead to the discovery of artificial intelligence (AI).
Through artificial intelligence, humans created algorithms to equip robotics with the power to make smart decisions. Due to this, our automated machines started to perform cognitive tasks within a second. This was a changing point when automation became more sophisticated and achieved the ability to take over humans.
This resulted in enhanced precisions, more accuracy, and better work efficiency—the three frontiers of replacing human intervention across industries.
Impact of Automation and Technology on Daily Life
Did you ever think about going to bed and waking up to robots taking over the world? Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Matrix and the Terminator aren’t showing up!
But these robots have masked themselves and are certainly present every step of the way. Let us look at the basic examples of automation technologies that emerged in the last two decades and how they are reshaping industries and changing our daily life.
Our smart home systems with air conditioners, fans, lights, security apps, and a lot of different machines exemplify automation in our daily lives.
We may not actively pay attention to it, but these domotics perform many tedious tasks. For example, we can now enter a space with pre-set lights, automated gates, and smart AC options. This innovative technology packed with computing powers has restructured our lifestyle.
Alladin’s genie was all fun and games until the concept of artificial intelligence granted you the same privileges. Voice assistants, the buzzword of the AI industry, are no less than your personal genie that treats every command as a wish!
A personal digital assistant such as Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google’s Assistant modernizes our worlds by saving time, adding flexibility, and incorporating accessibility.
With these assistants, we can automate daily reminders, book appointments, set alarms, call people, or play music with voice commands within seconds.
Once upon a time, self-driving cars were a mesmerizing fictional concept. But now, automation has modernized the transportation infrastructure by bringing autonomous cars, public transit, and drone deliveries to life!
Self-driving cars now operate with the help of AI algorithms. Another considerable example of automated public transport daily is self-operated buses and trains.
Whether you want to check your heart rate, observe your sleep pattern, or track your daily calories burned, wearable devices with machine learning algorithms can help you analyze these indicators within seconds.
This is another instance of automation in daily life that allows individuals to look out for early disease detection by taking proactive measures to maintain health.
When we developed AI with the power to adapt and make intelligent decisions, little did we know that robotics could now be our financial managers. A study by the economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests how advanced AI is in the finance department.
Robo-advisors can now undertake financial decisions through thorough analytical considerations. Thus, it has reduced the need for financial advisors and stockbrokers.
Advanced machine learning and AI algorithms have changed our financial management landscape by optimizing and streamlining business workflow.
Tasks such as budgeting, investment management, risk assessment, expense tracking, and managing balance sheets through leveraging data analytics could be automated. Moreover, our automated financial secretaries also help us predict an accurate financial outcome, minimize financial errors, and make informed decisions.
Automation and AI in the Business World
The automation revolution wasn’t going to be an obvious war between man and machine. Some people have suffered job losses due to AI, but it has also created new opportunities and enabled humans to learn new skills.
In today’s business landscape, automated machines have replaced human labor across various sectors. But the human workforce can now focus on strategic, executive, and creative work opportunities while robotics perform repetitive tasks.
Let us explore how leveraging automation is helping businesses boost work efficiency across various industries.
For a business to prosper faster in today’s mechanized world, it must use robotics in the manufacturing and production lines. In today’s globalization, large-scale industries utilize automation and human labor side by side to accomplish tasks such as assembling, handling, and packaging materials.
This hybrid workforce can streamline workflow and automate production cycles to provide end products with maximum cost-effectiveness. Moreover, automatic manufacturing systems also feature sensors with machine learning algorithms. These accurately detect flaws and perform product quality control checks.
Repetitive tasks can surely make you lose your brain! Imagine belonging to the e-commerce sector, where you have to perform hundreds of repetitive tasks every day. That sounds overwhelming, right?
But with automation in retail and e-commerce, businesses can now manage a broad spectrum of customer service, retail, chat boxes, order fulfillment, inventory management, and other repetitive tasks continuously.
E-commerce landscapes also leverage robotics for automated shipping and logistics. Business models can convert manual jobs into automated tasks, significantly improving customer experience and increasing conversion rates.
Automation and AI are beneficial but may eliminate “humans” from human resources (HR). In many sectors, HR departments no longer require a hiring manager or other manual staff for interview questions, job descriptions, and contracts.
AI also offers personalized solutions, chatbots, and virtual assistants to streamline the recruitment process. Automated resume screening helps HR departments in picking the ideal candidates.
AI has also revolutionized certain aspects of customer service. Business models can now utilize a 24/7 virtual assistant that handles all customer queries. These virtual assistants also provide visitors with instant replies and offer self-service options. AI algorithms also automate extracting insights from large datasets. In addition, it categorizes information to carry out data analysis by leveraging machine learning.
These steps enable organizations to make informed decisions. This way, AI has modernized every aspect of customer service, human resources, data management, and analysis.
Future of Automated Landscape
A few decades ago, humans did not imagine having access to AI and automation every step of the way. But with technological advancements in AI, robotics, and machine learning, automation is here to stay.
According to PWC analytics, AI and automation are expected to contribute $15 trillion to GDP by 2030, bringing remarkable economic benefits.
Thus, AI’s role as an economist can reshape our job structures which infers adaptation and upskilling to thrive in the modern workforce across all industries.
But with the increased use of robotics, there will be an immediate requirement for addressing upskilling and reskilling to combat the threat of job displacement and skill gaps.
AI and machine learning algorithms have empowered modern systems to learn and adapt, enabling them to make autonomous decisions and changes in real time.
This transforms our industrial infrastructure by creating new possibilities as AI continues to provide robotics with the power to make cognitive decisions and execute tasks with more efficiency.
Impact of Automation on Today’s Society
From work and economy to daily life, automation has revolutionized productivity, efficiency, and convenience, which impacts every walk of life in our modern world.
The rapid adaptability and implementation of automation across various aspects of our life bring numerous benefits, but it also has its fair downsides. Hence, we have always argued over automation’s social merits and demerits over the years.
Robotics undoubtedly bring innumerable benefits to our society, including increased productivity, faster manufacturing, cost efficiency, quality control, reliable customer support, efficient data analytics, economic growth, and smart business solutions.
Automating repetitive tasks minimizes defects, reduces human error, and helps free up human labor. Machines can now perform constant operations, which reduces downtime.
These remarkable aspects of automation benefit industrial models but also lead to several demerits. These include the following.
- Job displacement for lower-skilled workforce
- Income inequality
- Constant upskilling and reskilling
- Continued dependence on technology
This results in higher unemployment rates across countries, specifically the ones with repetitive tasks such as food services, bookkeeping, product manufacturing, etc.
In fact, you’d be surprised that automation could displace white-collar jobs, too. With more efficient sensors and software programs, the need for human labor to operate computers has declined, which creates the potential risk of unemployment.
Hence, the merits of automation include making your work easier than your Sunday morning cross word puzzle, but the demerits focus on the controversy of humans chasing their disappearing job descriptions.
Adapting to Automation | A Gradual Process
Just like automation embraces every aspect of today’s world, we must welcome robotic overlords with open arms. While it is okay to reminisce about the good non-automated days, businesses must adapt and evolve to keep up with the changes.
Our society needs a collaboration between automated machines and industrial professionals to create a talented hybrid workforce that can strategize and streamline workflow in every industry.
Reskilling and upskilling this hybrid workforce will also ensure smooth work and daily life collaboration in this fast-paced technological world that continues to evolve.
Once upon a time, the discovery of semi-automated machinery made us sit back and relax while mechanized labor performed strenuous everyday tasks.
Today, the robotics revolution provides us with a sweet spot at self-checkout lines, makes us feel like amateur cashiers, and offers us company through small talk on chatbots.
So our only natural response to adapting and evolving is scratching our heads while we laugh, adapt, and marvel at the wonders of AI, robotics, and machine learning. We need to adapt to AI and the Internet of Things and, in fact, retrain ourselves. If we power through the automated era by collaborating with the robotic workforce, our synergism can help us move forward in this innovative world.
The rise of robots and increased use of automation is affecting the workplace by making many types of jobs, such as data entry or food service operators, obsolete. Prof. Daron, an analyst at MIT, studied the direct detrimental impact of automation on the workforce, predominantly blue-collar jobs.
This job displacement across sectors creates unemployment in specific fields but creates new jobs in the software, technology, entrepreneurship, and AI sectors. Humans and robots work alongside in this new era of technological revolution.
Automation works seamlessly through interconnected networks and software, and if cybercriminals would start accessing these networks, they can exploit sensitive data.
Automation also involves storing large datasets. Poor privacy measures can compromise this sensitive data resulting in data breaches.
Automation boosts business productivity by reducing the need for manual tasks. It also detects errors, accelerates manufacturing processes, and provides a smart insight into various business roles.
Algorithms, data analytics, and natural language processing are the three essentials of automation. AI provides machines with these essentials, enabling them to adapt, evolve, and learn to make autonomous decisions.
Automation can change the workforce, workflow, and work dynamics in the next decade by introducing an extensive use of autonomous transportation, healthcare robotics, and AI implementation across all data and software-related firms.