A report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts the worldwide spend on robotics will double by 2020. In 2016 $91.5 billion was spent, the leap to $188 billion will be driven by the price drop on sensors and software, allowing more businesses to create more products for more markets.
Presently over half of robotics spending comes from manufacturing. Discrete Manufacturing delivers 31%, Process Manufacturing 28% of 2016’s worldwide total. Manufacturing aside the industries spending the most on robotics are Resource Industries, Consumer and Healthcare.
Automation of jobs in these sectors will likely have an adverse affect anyone who welds, assembles, mixes or paints things. Anyone who answers telephones or crunches numbers. Anyone who cleans or repairs.
If robotics is going to be worth $188 billion in 2020 it is because there will be billions of savings and profits to be had from firing those pesky human employees who need things like houses, healthcare and food to survive. Repairing the robots is clearly an emerging field of work, but will there be enough jobs made to offset the losses?
A report from Forrester suggests robots imbued with artificial intelligence are likely to eliminate 6% of all jobs in the US by 2021. If the industry has grown dramatically but the employee numbers have been slashed, what does this do to wealth and income inequality or to unemployment rates? The US is an economically advanced nation. Countries without a basis of high-tech industries are even more at risk. 69% of India’s jobs are at risk of automation, in addition to 77% of Chinese jobs, 85% of Ethiopian jobs.
We’re at risk of putting insurmountable differences between ourselves because we’ve found a process which ends with the obsolete human (homo obsoletus). Innovation in robotics systems can make life easier. If we can automate human essentials such as food production, energy production, transportation and house building the capital vacuum caused by loss of employment can be made redundant itself. We can build a metaphorical safety net made of literal things. These things will become labour and they will work tirelessly as long as we tell them to.
Will a robot take your job? The BBC will let you know. Providing you have an automation proof job or the capability to switch fields consumer robotics available for purchase in 2020 will likely be quite fantastic.