Do robots take over our work?

Recently I was at the  conference organized by the Minierstry of Social Affairs. Minister Asscher held the opening speech. This speech was, among other things, focussed on the question: Will robots take over our work? A wonderful moment for us finally draw attention to this development that the societies and economies are extremely changing.

In the sixties Isaac Asimov predicted that robots would come. In the eighties Honda began the project ASIMO with a fantastic robot as a result. An extreme acceleration we see now. Google and many others focus on the technology behind the robot. The development of artificial intelligence will provide major breakthroughs in the coming years.

What is a robot?

The word robot was first used by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots) (1920). A robot is a programmable machine, which can perform several different tasks. In this he differs from a numerical machine, which is programmed for one job. In practice, this means that a robot can be used for various applications where a numerical machine can perform only one (partly variable) task. A robot may sometimes even change grapple, to perform various tasks. Robotics is the branch of science that deals with the development of robots and study. The human-looking variant called a Androide. This looks like a human, but is a robot. Robots are not new. We know the spambot, factory robot and the I-robot vacuum cleaner. The latter allows for many consumers the carpet daily. Robots can also be found in the factories as industrial robot.

Robots are taking over your work?

Why should we support a conveyor belt? Why do we do the work that better and faster can be carried out by robots? Because we like it or maybe because we are used? There are professions that will perhaps just exist in a few years. Think of bus, taxi or truck drivers. Starting next year, driving the first self-propelled cars in the Netherlands.

The list of jobs that can be done by robots will eventually grow. The speed of the robot will depend on introduction of technical developments, the degree to which the robot is accepted by us, humans.

Also, the assembly of products will not take place by human hands in the long run. If we look at industrial robots that full production to take over, we can conclude that in the Netherlands will not be a severe limitation.

Worldwide, there are currently 1.3 million robots at work. In 2008, there were 1 million. Despite the crisis, the robot employment has increased by 30% over five years. Japan has 300,000 robots, China 133,000 and the rest is spread over USA, Germany and Korea. Netherlands almost does not count with only 7,400 robots, just half a percent of the world total. Or the robot in Japan and South Korea will actually destroy jobs is questionable. Unemployment is low and there workweek.

What is clear is that the robot is going to cost jobs. Certain professions, such as drivers, lab technicians, accountants, insurance agents, supervisors, and pizza delivery may or disappear within 5-10 years. Low-skilled jobs are under discussion. They will have to look for opportunities elsewhere. At the same time asks the robot technology to new highly qualified employees, such as robot design and data scientist. These specialists should be rapidly trained in cooperation with the innovative business. We can not start early enough.

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