Office 2021: Why robots won’t end drudgery or steal our jobs
Business Process Automation

Office 2021: Why robots won’t end drudgery or steal our jobs

When it comes to robots and automation, there are two core extremes of view. The first does a gleeful happy-dance about how all our beautiful mechanical friends will liberate us from the grinding tedium of repetitive drudgery. The second warns bleakly that machines will enslave humanity and lead to mass unending unemployment. And possibly a slow and painful death.

Yet even this divisive two-part picture is skewed. As Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of European Automation points out: “History has shown that when economic times are good, machines are celebrated as wonders of progress that will improve our lives. But when times are tough, they become objects of fear.”

So, is there any kind of sensible middle way? Well, a new book, Service Automation: Robots and the Future of Work 2016, by two academics – LSE Professor Leslie Willcocks and Dr. Mary C. Lacity of University of Missouri-St. Louis – strives to provide some balance. This contains new research, a number of case studies along with insight into managing the automation process.  

Through this Willcocks and Lacity suggest that a lot of jobs may change their structure rather than being lost altogether. The next five years will be a time of transition, rather than depletion. And many companies will look to redeploy workers rather than lay them off. They also point out that the process of automation itself will require a lot of human management. 

Overall they take the personal view that although there will, of course, be significant redundancies because of automation there will also be parallel new developments.

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Kathryn Cave

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Catherine SIMON on April 01 2016

I believe the question isn't whether Robots or AI or disruptive technologies will or not steal jobs. And although you can make great sales out of this fear, what about having more meaningful thoughts and thus enlightening debates. Robotics is considered as a General Purpose Technology. If you look at the definition of a GPT, it changes structures,economies, personal lives... society as a whole. So let's first have a new vision of society where robotics technologies and other GPTs can help us build a sustainable humanity. And once you have this vision, act in the present to make it happen. Let's use foresight as a tool to help us make decision and not futurology make us freeze in fear. Thank you.

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Barry Dennis on April 02 2016

Companies might be well advised to have well-designed plans in place for Continuing Learning and Curiosity Satisfaction as Machine Intelligence takes the place of lower-level, somewhat mindless tasks of Inquiry Diagnostics and Management. The Continuing Learning, whether from corporate centers or work-at-home offices should be structured to advance the "associates" in-job skills as well as preparation for the next level. The Curiosity Satisfaction obviously relates to the associates Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and leads to the opportunity for creative thinking and task-oriented solutions. Who knows? Maybe the next big thing is just waiting in a cubicle in Kansas City or Baltimore, or in a home office, hoping to be released and harnessed.

no-images

Catherine SIMON on April 01 2016

I believe the question isn't whether Robots or AI or disruptive technologies will or not steal jobs. And although you can make great sales out of this fear, what about having more meaningful thoughts and thus enlightening debates. Robotics is considered as a General Purpose Technology. If you look at the definition of a GPT, it changes structures,economies, personal lives... society as a whole. So let's first have a new vision of society where robotics technologies and other GPTs can help us build a sustainable humanity. And once you have this vision, act in the present to make it happen. Let's use foresight as a tool to help us make decision and not futurology make us freeze in fear. Thank you.

no-images

Barry Dennis on April 02 2016

Companies might be well advised to have well-designed plans in place for Continuing Learning and Curiosity Satisfaction as Machine Intelligence takes the place of lower-level, somewhat mindless tasks of Inquiry Diagnostics and Management. The Continuing Learning, whether from corporate centers or work-at-home offices should be structured to advance the "associates" in-job skills as well as preparation for the next level. The Curiosity Satisfaction obviously relates to the associates Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and leads to the opportunity for creative thinking and task-oriented solutions. Who knows? Maybe the next big thing is just waiting in a cubicle in Kansas City or Baltimore, or in a home office, hoping to be released and harnessed.

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