Who runs the world? Robots!

In a new weekly series, our team of Innovation Hunters offer up their views on the world of emerging channels, technology and trends.

According the Oxford Dictionary a robot is….

“A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer”.

“Secret, secret I’ve got a secret!” were words uttered by the band Styx for the song Domo Arigato Mr.Roboto but should we be thanking robots or be weary of the rise of the machines?

What is not a secret is the proliferation of robots all around us, from the PC I am writing on to the old school clunky calculator on your work top desk, robots have so far been a useful aid in helping mankind to solve complex questions and problems but with experts saying that we are heading towards a tipping point, might robots destabilise the economy as we know it?

According to Martin Ford’s book Rise of the Robots, we are on or close to a tipping point which will mirror the effects that took place in the industrial revolution.  So far 10 million jobs in the UK and half of the jobs in the US market are performed by robots and these figures are only forecasted to rise. We are already seeing this in places such as Amazon’s warehouse where robots are scanning bar codes and sorting out where packages go. SMEs benefit greatly from robots as they can be cheaper to run and if you think you’re safe because your job requires some level of creativity, which can only be spawned from the human soul, think again! There are already robots who can paint and recreate pictures of the ‘old masters’ as well as robots who can play and write symphonies.

Well this is great, right? A utopian future which will end capitalism – power to the people! We can all retire on a beach with a Pina Colada. Well, not quite.

In his book, Martin explains that digitisation of an industry leads to a few big winners and a lot of relatively low paid losers and therefore accelerates inequality. Think about it. Instagram had only 13 employees before being sold to Facebook for 1 billion dollars. The future will mean less of us and more of them; 30 billion connected devices are forecasted for the year 2020. While we are a while away from synthetic humans, as demonstrated in Channel 4’s hit show Humans, taking over the world, there are many machines which are fast coming to fruition which may forever change the way we work, interact, and play. So who runs the world? Well, for now it’s us but it looks to be a lot more collaborative in the near future with the likes of “Ok Google” and Siri driverless cars, as well as 3D printers and more taking us to new levels of innovation.

However, we must not be afraid, as robots are here to help. In the last decade 800,000 jobs have been lost due to the rise of machines, however, 3.5 million jobs have been created. This shows that robots and humans can co-exist with one another. Ultimately, great machines cannot be built without great human thinking.To that I say:

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto


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