PRODUCTION: Technology continues to change the way we work. Photo: Stockphoto

Managing the shift to automation

Automation is making some real changes in the workplace, but it’s the next generation of robotic technology that will really challenge our ideas about people and employment.


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Artificial Intelligence is the key to driving significantly improved Robotic Technology which will eventually be capable of human level intelligence followed by super human intelligence. When this will occur is strongly debated by AI researchers and AI companies although is likely within the next 10 to 20 years. However even now as language and visual recognition and response is becoming highly sophisticated there is no doubt it will be cheaper to replace many professional and virtually any repetitive type of jobs with intelligent computer systems and specific task robots. Whilst companies will become more efficient, competitive and profitable, it is also likely to cause significant unemployment that is unlikely to ever recover. There was the agricultural then industrial revolution and shortly there will be the AI revolution which will produce an intelligence explosion like the world has never seen before. There will be amazing new inventions and discoveries particularly in medical science which will facilitate us to live much longer lives however without jobs this may only benefit those that control or own the "intelligence". Ideally there will be a new system of income distribution and perhaps a utopian existence will be created however probably not in our life time.

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Keep an eye on this Australia! At the height of problems during the construction of the Gorgon LNG plant on Barrow Island one rather senior Chevron manager stated "Australia has some of the highest paid employees in the's a pity their productivity is not at the same level?" ...or words to that effect! What that translates to is robotics can remove some of that inefficiency and associated business risk. Just look at the way bricks are being laid today using robotics, ...and with greater accuracy! With the (somewhat diminished) strength of unions, and the attitude of "the world owes me something!!" by many, in particular the Australian "CUB" (cashed up bogan), Australian business owners are looking at ways of mitigating the negatives associated with human operators, and we will see the rise of the machines sooner than many might anticipate. Hasta la vista baby!

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