The cyborg workforce
August 19, 2014
A 2014 study from RobotEnomics suggests that implementing industrial robotics can increase a firm’s number of human employees. The EU recently invested €2.8bn in robotics research. The goal: boost productivity and create more than 240,000 jobs.
Manufacturing jobs are being augmented with industrial robots. BMW already uses robotics to support workers in its Spartanburg, SC, plant. Since 2001, the global market for industrial robotics has more than doubled, with about 179,000 industrial robots sold globally in 2013.
By 2060, disabilities may no longer exist. MIT’s Biomechatronics Group is building prosthetics and exoskeletons to improve rehabilitation. Such advances have industrial applications. ActiveLink, for example, is designing exoskeletons for workers in nuclear plants.
In May, researchers from the Technische Universität München demonstrated the feasibility of flight via brain control. Using EEG devices to connect their brains to flight simulator software, subjects demonstrated the ability to safely fly, maneuver and land.
Many fear technology could replace jobs. Evidence has yet to fully materialise, however. Though long-term concerns may be valid, most jobs, particularly those requiring high levels of social intelligence, are likely safe. Technology doesn’t kill jobs: it changes their nature.
The Economist (GE Look Ahead)