Rise Of Robots-Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning.
Let’s face it; the year 2020 showed us that technology is a lifeline for virtually every industry in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic literally changed our perception and understanding of the world as we know it. While at it, the pandemic also pushed a giant fast-forward button to the future. While the pandemic brought in many challenges and exposed the lack of digital foundation needed to pivot in many organizations rapidly, others stepped up to use technology in extraordinary ways to keep their businesses and communities running; at speed, they never thought possible before.
No doubt, what started in Wuhan, China, as mere flu turned into a global pandemic. And as we know it, pandemics aren’t just passing clouds of sickness and death. The ever-presence of such mass-scale threats, and the psychological and mental torture that come with them, definitely, lead to new behaviours and beliefs. Subconsciously, people become both more suspicious and start dissociating from anything that seems foreign or strange.
Consequently, in a bid to contain the ravaging virus, many states worldwide started implementing the covid-19 protocol, including keeping social distance, washing hands more often, and avoiding social gatherings. This became our new normal, leading to the emergence of robots and Artificial Intelligence solutions in virtually all industries. The truth is, for better or worse, robots and AI are now here to stay. They are definitely, going to replace many humans in their jobs, and the coronavirus pandemic just sped up the process.
Before the pandemic, most people were sceptical about robots. While those fears were primarily founded on false beliefs and lack of knowledge, it seems to have been set aside since the onset of the ravaging virus as robots and other AI-powered technologies have been widely used to mitigate the spread of the virus. With many organizations ordering people to stay home, we’ve seen an acceleration of robotics used to do the jobs employees used to do.
On the first floor, something seems to be making rounds in the semi-darkness of a closed shopping centre to paint a good picture. It suddenly stops in front of a clothing store, washing the window display in searing light. You would expect an alarm bells sound in normal circumstances or a security guard rushing over, but none happened. The AI-powered Sunburst UV Bot, with its 1000 watts worth of UVC light capable of “tearing apart strands of virus DNA,” is on duty every night here, plus some other malls and hospitals in Singapore. It is performing what used to be preserved for humans before the covid-19 pandemic: cleaning.
It’s not only Singapore turning to robots; similar scenes are slowly becoming part of us across the world. In Texan hospitals, for instance, Moxi delivers meds, lab samples, and other supplies. Walking along the streets of Tunisia and you are likely to meet P Guard enforcing lockdown curfews. In Belgium, James the telepresence bot helps residents at care homes stay connected. Other AI-powered bots engage in various chores such as scrubbing supermarket floors, delivering meals to people in isolation, and even walking the dogs. As robots’ utilization continues to soar every day, non-embodied AI helps fight against the virus with its presence felt in contact tracing and cracking the coronavirus’s genetic code.
An analysis recently done by McKinsey and Company revealed that three-quarters of foodservice and accommodation in restaurants are likely to be automated. The hospitality industry is vast, with robots already doing most of the tasks-we have seen industrial robots work in concert with AI, thermal scanners, and lasers chopping vegetables, grill hamburgers, or other foods. Artificial Intelligence is being utilized right now to improve cooking processes. No doubt, the hospitality industry and its suppliers are already embracing robotics and Artificial Intelligence applications. We already have robot waiters in the Netherlands and a fully automated restaurant in China. In fact, some of these robots even measure customer’s temperatures before they enter the restaurant.
As I mentioned earlier, robots and AI-infused systems are taking over virtually all industries. Healthcare has witnessed the rise of robots in the industry, with Chinese hospitals leading the pact. For instance, since the onset of the pandemic, hospitals in Guangzhou have been using robots for drugs’ autonomous transportation. Wuhan Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, China, created a smart field in which 14 robots performed various cleaning, disinfection, and temperature measurement tasks.
Now, what does the rise of robots mean to workers? Before the onset of the pandemic, fearful reaction and somewhat scary headlines hit the ground predicting massive job loss, disproportionate allocation of prosperity, and widening political polarization. Now that we have already witnessed massive job loss, not as a result of automation, the question is, “how can robots and AI accelerate our economic recovery and shield us from future pandemics?”
Before the pandemic, a report released by McKinsey projected that up to 30% of jobs in the US would be automated by 2030, and “automation and AI will lift productivity and economic growth, but millions of people worldwide may need to switch occupations or upgrade skills.” It may be too early to predict how the pandemic will impact jobs in the long term, but it’s I think it’s safe to assume that we will likely see a lot of companies switching to robotics and AI where it keeps human workers and consumers safer.
The fact is; robots are growing and impacting the way society, the economy, and the world are organized, especially during this pandemic. The unfortunate bit is that areas with the lowest income, typically rural regions, are negatively impacted by this industry’s growth. But the good news is that job loss resulting from Robot automation will be softened by new jobs that’ll be created.