The thought of robots putting people out of work had always been a scary one, the World Economic Forum predicts as many as 5 million jobs will be replaced with technology by 2020.
Recently, former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi added steam to the idea by saying it is cheaper to hire a robot to work at the fast-food chain.
“It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 (£24,000) robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 (£10.20) an hour bagging French fries. It’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” he told Fox Business.
Although CEO Steve Easterbrook quickly shot down the idea, fellow restaurant chain Pizza Hut’s robot Pepper is ready for order-taking and customer service in-store by end of 2016.
Robots had also invaded factories. Foxcoon no longer has to worry about answering the the media and the public about why their workers are jumping off from the roofs of the factories instead or working in it. The electronics manufacturer has decided to replace 60,000 workers with robots
The major job cut is expected to take place at Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, a major manufacturing hub for Taiwanese manufacturers.
“The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,” Xu Yu Lian department head of the Kunshan government’s publicity department told the South China Morning Post.
After ceasing manufacturing in its home country Germany for mote than 20 years, sportswear maker Adidas has announced it will start marketing its first series of shoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017, Forbes reports.
Looks like many people’s jobs are in jeopardy but Martin Weis, EMEIA Robotics Leader, EY, wrote in a piece on EY building a better working world that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) could be welcomed by the very people whose jobs may seem most at risk from its introduction.
RPA is the software that allows automation of back-office manual tasks. It’s the future of many administrative functions and is set to enable office staff to automate routine tasks by themselves using common automation tools, thereby freeing up their capacity for higher-value work.
“RPA removes repetitious but labor-intensive work, like large-scale manual data entry, and enables people to instead focus on what matters,” Weis says.
He said the low pay jobs involving repetitive manual processes is causing staff retention problems. “This not only drives up costs, but also means businesses could be losing promising talent for the future. People don’t really stick with these jobs for more than two years. You may need to hire 20 to 30 percent each year to renew the workforce that is doing these repetitive tasks. RPA could help to reduce this churn and make work more interesting for many people.” ” Weiss said.
Tom Moolayil, a technical manager at Universal Robots agreed with Wesis that getting to human to do repetitive work harms productivity.
“Doing a repetitive, mundane task over and over again, I don’t think that’s a job any person should be doing even for a day, and a lot of these companies, even they see there’s a huge turnover rate.” he told Voice of America at the RoboUniverse expo in New York City.