The degree to which robots will take our jobs will largely depend on whether robots can effectively substitute or augment our work.
There are various scenarios at play here that will determine whether robots will take over our jobs:
1. We allow robots to voluntarily substitute our jobs because we are no longer prepared to do the work ourselves. In fact, we are happy for robots to take over our jobs. Examples include military service, car production and manufacturing, space exploration, underwater exploration, duct cleaning, crime fighting, fixing oil spills, investigating hazardous environments, and commercialized agriculture.
2. Robots can be more efficient and effective than humans in doing manual, repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. As such, we are involuntarily substituted by robots even when we are still able to work in our jobs. Examples include truck driving, parcel delivery, inventory stocking, and floor cleaning.
3. Robots can be deployed in industries where there are acute labor shortages. There’s no choice but for robots to perform jobs that we don’t have enough qualified people to do the work. This problem will grow exponentially when larger numbers of Baby Boomers retire over the next decade or two. Robots will fill jobs that this generation is abandoning.
4. Robots are deployed in industries where labor cost pressures will dictate the decision to automate. If labor becomes too expensive, then organizations will have no choice but to use lower-cost robots to substitute human labor.
5. We co-develop robots with developers that will augment our work and free us up to do higher value work. This includes decision-making, conceptualizing and analyzing. Instead, robots will co-exist with us in workplaces and transform our jobs into new ones.