Oxford Economics, the leading ‘think tank’ in global forecasting, produced a fascinated report last week on ‘How robots change the world – what automation really means for jobs and productivity’
The report states that the rise of the robots will boost productivity and economic growth and will lead to the creation of new jobs in yet-to-exist industries. However, it says existing business models in many sectors will be seriously disrupted and millions of existing jobs will be lost. The report estimates up to 20 million manufacturing jobs are set to be lost to robots by 2030.
Our Responsibility as Engineers
As engineers, we are creating this world, but the implications of our work extend far beyond the technical challenges we will need to address and overcome.
Our work as Engineers has social implications, and our work even has political implications.
We cannot abdicate our responsibilities for the potential implications of the work we do.
Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, the exponential growth of technology creates the opportunity to free humans, to live longer, to be more creative and live more fulfilled lives, but only if we address the social and political question:
Who will own the robots?
And who will benefit from the rapid deployment of robotics and artificial intelligence in all aspects of our work and social life.
If our work as Engineers only serves to divide society, between those who have and those who don’t, everything we achieve as Engineers will have no value to society, which could then take us down the path to a dystopian society.