Humans can push themselves to work faster, harder and in smarter ways, yet there are only so many ways that productivity can be increased. There’s a limit; the human limit.
Companies have started to substitute machines for humans to increase productivity, and driven by advances in robotics, this substitution trend is set to accelerate! Oxford University researcher Dr Carl Frey, predicted that work automation put up to 47% of existing US jobs at “high risk”. Today, industrial robots perform on average about 10% of all manufacturing tasks in the US and this is set to increase, and annual worldwide spending on industrial robots more than doubling from about $11 billion today to more than $24 billion in 2025.
This growth and reliance on robots is down to a number of factors. Industrial robots are becoming more affordable at the same time that they’re becoming smarter, smaller, nimbler, and more adaptable and energy efficient. Robots are becoming part of everyday lives and robotic prowess can to some extent be taken for granted; cars will soon be driving themselves, floors will be cleaned by robots, and you will no longer be served by humans in stores. Yet the robotic underpinning such things will be invisible and robots will take many different forms, fulfilling all sorts of needs, be it manufacturing, customer care and service, or in Japan, running an entire hotel!
The Henn-na Hotel has promoted “a commitment for evolution” through their use of robots. The hotel opened last year in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki, and it is the world’s first hotel staffed entirely by robots! The robots mimic human behaviour including breathing, blinking and making eye contact and speak fluent Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. The 10 robots staff the 72-room hotel and are capable of cleaning rooms, transporting luggage and even greeting guests at the hotel’s reception. Hideo Sawada, President of Huis Ten Bosch claimed they “will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” said the robots will significantly reduce costs.
However, robots are not only being used as a useful resource in the present, but companies are now using them to predict future trends. Japanese advertising agency McCann took artificial intelligence to the next level, after creating and appointing the world’s first robot Creative Director. The AI Creative Director will work on real client accounts and is the first logic-based creative direction that’s based off the historical success of TV ads. The robot is able to give creative direction for commercials, drawing from a database of tagged and analysed TV commercials from the past 10 years. Their hope is for their AI Creative Director to work on many projects, gain experience, and to grow into a world-class Creative Director that will leave a mark in the advertising industry!
In a recent survey asking people if they could “have a fulfilling emotional relationship with a robot’, 15% of men answered yes! This illustrates the interest in the possibility of co-existing with robots as part of our daily lives, to collaborate and create meaningful and emotional relationships. The advancement in AI and robots has created robots with increasingly similar attributes to humans, with the ability to perform increasingly valuable tasks safely and effectively, leaving us to question, will robots make humans redundant?
“We are entering a new era which brings a whole new world to consider. This is not a case of ‘us’ and ‘them’, but is rather about getting used to co-existing with one another to ensure we get the best out of one another. As with any new era, it will be met with scepticism, however I believe there will always be a place for humans in the workplace”, Lynette Deutsch, CEO, The Endaba Group