With a pandemic affecting the whole world, one would be forgiven if they had forgotten about another human tragedy of life – the proliferation of robots.
For better or worse, robots will replace most people in their jobs, analysts say, and a coronavirus outbreak accelerates the process.
“People often say they want a human element in their work but Covid-19 has changed that,” said Martin Ford, a futurist who wrote about how robots will be integrated into the economy for decades to come.
“[Covid-19] will change consumer preferences and actually open up new possibilities for automation.”
Companies large and small are increasing how they use robots to increase the social spread and reduce the number of employees who have to come physically to work. Robots are also used to perform tasks that employees can perform at home.
Walmart, America’s largest retailer, uses robot to crawl on the floor.
South Korean robots have been used to measure temperatures and to distribute a hand sanitiser.
As health experts warn some of the public-spill alternatives may need to be in place by 2021, robotic workers may be in great demand.
Bring robots cleaners
Companies that make cleaning products and cleansing glasses are up for demand.
UVD robots, made by Danish robots for ultraviolet-light-disinfection robots, send hundreds of their machines to hospitals in China and Europe.
Grocery stores and restaurants that offer pick-up items are widely used in these machines.
Experts say that as more businesses reopen we can expect to see more adoption of this technology – you can see robots cleaning your schools or offices.
“Customers are now more concerned with their safety and the safety and health of employees,” said Blake Morgan, author of The Customer of the Future.
“Going into automation can ultimately be lifelong and customers will reward companies that do this.”
There are limitations. Ms Morgan argues that automated checkouts at grocery stores should reduce human interaction but because many systems are inefficient or easily break consumers to avoid them and turn to human cashiers instead.
Assist with public distribution
Food service is another area where the use of robots can increase due to health problems.
Fast food chains such as McDonald’s were testing robots as chefs and servers.
In warehouses, such as those made by Amazon and Walmart, robots are already being used to improve efficiency. The Covid-19 outbreak has both companies looking to expand the use of robots for sorting, moving and packing.
This would reduce the number of complaints made by the warehouse staff who say they will not be able to distance their colleagues from the current conditions. However, according to experts in technology, it will put some of them inactive.
Once a company has invested in a robot replacement, it is unlikely that the company will ever fulfill that role. Robots are expensive to create and integrate into businesses but once they are up and running, robots are much cheaper than human workers.
According to Martin Ford of the future, the use of robots in the Covid-19 world also brings certain marketing benefits.
“People will choose to move to a place with fewer workers and more equipment because they feel they can reduce the risk completely,” he explained.
Authentic AI like humans
What about the role of ministry where one is required to teach a lesson or guide?
An artificial intelligence is being developed that can replace school teachers, fitness trainers and financial advisors.
Big tech companies are expanding the use of artificial intelligence. Both Facebook and Google rely on AI to remove inappropriate posts because company content moderators can’t update specific items at home.
Robot skeptics believed that humans would improve on those jobs. That can change as the locks in and the people get comfortable with the idea of connecting remotely. A teaching person or mentor on screen does not need to be a real person, they just need to think and act like one.
A 2017 report by global consultants McKinsey predicts that a third of workers in the US will be replaced by automation and robots by 2030. But events such as protests have the potential to change all the tables and experts say it’s best for people to decide how they want to integrate this technology into the world.