The predictions are that in a few years the e-sales in the US alone may top the mesmerizing $600 billion mark. The economy is growing, people have longer and healthier lives, and online shopping has become as easy as Sunday morning. The odds are that demand is not going to slow down and the number will continue to grow in the years to come.
Etailers such as Amazon are starting to use the help of robots in order to cope with the demand and keep the prices reasonable. It may sound like science-fiction, but sometimes, when you finally hit the buy button on Amazon, you make a hardworking robot buzz around a warehouse that is sometimes located hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of miles away from you. While there is nothing wrong with online shopping the odds are that Santa’s little helpers may soon have to start considering a career change. While this may cause a few waves of economic turbulence, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
As we recently discussed, robots could sometimes be evil, but this is not the case with the ones that prepare your online orders. In fact, they could sometimes be considered as a better solution when compared to human co-workers – warehouse robots are proving to be significantly cheaper and deliver better ROI. Lower handling costs have a direct impact on the prices that you pay for the goods that you purchase online. It is true that automation could be considered as the most significant nemesis of low skilled workers, but historically things have proven always to turn out well. For example, back in the 1700s in the US, about 90% of the people were employed in the agriculture sector. This number is now around 1.5%. Technology advancements are here to make people’s lives easier.
Where do robots fall short?
While humans are not perfect, neither are the machines. Automation and AI will be playing a significant part of the future of humanity. While engineers are striving to make machines as autonomous as possible, the type of robots used in modern day warehouses are not ready to fully take over the shipping and handling jobs. Apart from the fact that they will always require maintenance, robots are not yet good handlers. Nothing can compare to a real human finalizing an order. So even though that the engineers will eventually find a reasonably priced solution for this problem, robots are not yet ready to entirely replace the humans.
Who else will be affected?
Researchers say that advanced countries will be the ones that will be most impacted by the advances in the automation and AI fields. People employed in the logistics and transportation industry will take the biggest hit. Low-skilled food workers may also want to reconsider their careers as things are not looking bright there either. While this is terrible news for people in these industries, it is good news for everyone else as automation will most likely decrease the expenses of the average people. But hey, technology helps people – mining cryptocurrency sounds much more appealing than mining coal – welcome to the 21st century.
Emerging technologies are here to stay, and we are pretty sure that Santa will find a way for the Christmas elves to remain as part of the process. Perhaps automation will allow them to be home with their families instead – it must be exhausting to work every Christmas tirelessly!
I’ve got friends that work at the post office who get mad at me for paying my bills online. They say I’m taking away their jobs. That may be true but paying bills online is a much better option than sending a check in the mail. Automation and technology is always a good thing and of course there’s going to be jobs that will be lost but this is a part of moving us forward into the future.
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