Robots won’t take your job, just the fun

Controversy continues to rage when it comes to the question of whether robots threaten our jobs. A new article in Wired brings up a different point, though. Author Matt Beane, who has been studying the subject for seven years, agrees that robots can take on dangerous, dull, and dirty work for humans. He just doesn’t think that’s a good thing.

Beane looks to robot-assisted surgery for an example. Surgeons use machines like the DaVinci system to perform delicate surgery faster and with less physical fatigue. The result, it’s generally agreed, is surgery that is both safer and more profitable. Not a bad combination.

Beane says that it might be better for the surgeons, but it’s not good for the support staff. Set up for the system is dull and done in isolation, he says, and the surgery itself requires very little effort from human support staff. Not only are operating room nurses bored, but they miss out on the opportunity to learn. Removing the scary, messy parts of the job makes it less dangerous but also less exciting.

Even before the DaVinci system became common, emergency room nurses knew that their jobs could be automated. Those jobs might be exciting, but they could usually be handled by a robot. The nurses didn’t think that their jobs should be taken over by robots, but their reasoning was simply that they needed their jobs. They didn’t claim that they couldn’t be replaced, but that they shouldn’t be.

Are dirty, dangerous jobs more satisfying than safe, civilized ones? Are physically demanding jobs better than mentally demanding ones? These are philosophical questions, and might come down to personal taste. Beane’s own job doesn’t appear to include any dangerous or dirty tasks, and he has a romantically nostalgic moment over coal mining, so perspective may be an issue here.

Beane says that installing robots also ends the search for ways to improve the work. We know this to be false. Rexroth is constantly improving and innovating, and many other companies do the same. Industrial robotics is an area of exciting and unrelenting change.

This makes it difficult to decide when to upgrade. Should you replace your current legacy components with new ones now or wait till next year when there will be something even newer and more amazing available? Can you keep some of the current machinery and get the new components that will make the most difference in your facility? Call now and discuss your options.

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