BEECHEY : How far do we want society to be replaced by robots?

R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars, Data from Star Trek… who didn’t love the robots in most sci-fi movies and books?

One day they will do all the mundane, disgusting, risky or dangerous jobs so that humans only have to do the interesting, fun jobs and we will have even more time to do whatever we want!


Well, the future is here, more than most people realize, but I don’t think that fantasy future will be what humans will get.

On Oct. 27, 2020 in Forbes (US), World Economic Forum suggested automation will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. But not to worry, as all that tech to make them will make 97 million jobs. (Well, until they teach the robot to make more robots.)

Today, 30 per cent of all tasks are done by machines, although in four years it will be 50/50.

The question is, how far do you want society to be replaced by robots?

Salaries, especially with benefits and pensions, are usually the biggest expense in any business, so get rid of humans, keep your prices down, and make more money. Factories can push out more product faster, fewer errors, injuries, etc. and the products could possibly be sold cheaper!

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Did you know there are various kinds of ‘robocare’ that have been or are being developed, that deal with patients in long term care, residences, and hospitals (and someday in your home). The University of Toronto is very involved in researching socially assistive robots doing repetitive jobs, but they won’t be just on dull and dirty duty, like bed pans, lifting and cleaning, these robots will be doing hands on assistance with your loved ones eating, exercising, encouraging, visiting with them, and trained to deal with Alzheimer’s. They will be able to assist with cooking, selecting clothing, running bingos etc. They will be doing this in various languages. (Okay! I am in for cook/maid robot called Fred!)

Thus far it seems the patients and residents enjoy the robots, their jokes, and mostly someone, excuse me, something, paying attention to them. They respond to them as they do a human. It was noted that using robots will allow human workers to spend more time with the patients. Really, doing what? What can’t a robot be programed to do?

Does it matter their touch is not yet human with warm skin and love? I am sure they will be programed to hug too.

These developments are happening now because there are not enough care workers. (Is that because they cannot afford them, or no one will do it?) Changes will come quickly. So you might like to consider, do you want your parents or yourself in long term care, or your children in day-care, being cared for by robots?

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

COVID has shown that many people are quite happy to shop online now for food, clothes, insurance, even cars, which requires no stores or humans running the store. But gee, won’t things get cheaper? Or will we be paying more taxes?

How many people will be unemployed when they construct our homes, sell property, teach our children? Start thinking about these things as they are no longer science fiction, they are a fast approaching future.

Robots will get cheaper and human contact will invariably cost a lot more. Will only the rich be able to hire humans in any job? Will we be stuck with only a bodiless Alexa or Siri to talk to or will I have to buy or hire ‘Fred’ for a companion?

What do we do to get humans back on the line or in the stores? Are you willing to pay more to employ humans so your family and friends can work? Think quickly, we are on fast forward right now.

This Week in Flyers