Statistics prove that the era of industry 4.0 is here. According to the IFR, while in 2005 there were only approximately 120.000 robots in operation, at the moment there are 1.8 million, and by 2019 the number of robots is expected to be 2.6 million.
Robots are becoming more and more popular. Not only is technological development making it possible to fully automatize certain tasks, but the conditions of acquiring a robot have changed as well. Robots have become affordable for businesses of all sizes. For example, the Boston-based Rethink Robotics offers robots for under $30.000, their model named Baxter is available for only $25.000 which means it costs the same as paying a full-time human employee $4 and hour over the lifetime of the machine.
According to calculations like these, it is more beneficial financially for profit-driven business owners to implement a robot than to employ a human worker if possible. But what does this mean for society? Several experts fear the trend of automation and data exchange because certain estimates show a radical rise in unemployment rates. The World Economic Forum stated that “over five million jobs will be lost by 2020 as a result of developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological change.”
But there are disagreements regarding the validity of these statements: the Harvard Business review published an article in which they show that there is no proven relationship between a country’s use of robots and the percentage of manufacturing jobs lost. Their research indicates that the expansion of robots will more likely change the type demand on the labor market as oppose reduce it. Robots will be used in the fields which require a lower qualification and will open opportunities to highly educated and qualified workers.
Even the next few years will make it clearer what consequences the development of robotics will have. At this moment there is no proof that it will have a negative impact on society. This new infographic from TradeMachines even provides statistics implying that robots might create more jobs than currently available. Take a look yourself!