Article: Shaping how working with Robots and AI affect us and future generations

Xi Engineering

I see a bright future in which technology is embraced and the interface between humans and computing power is smooth and slick. To achieve this we must act now to create a learning environment in which future generations will be able to communicate with automated systems and robots but at the same time understand the truly lovely values of being a human.

The work we carry out at Xi, in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) give our team insight into amazing technology; technology which has the ability to change the way in which humans work and to create an incredible future.

While I am excited by what is ahead and believe it is going to allow us to do amazing things, in the short term we cannot underestimate the impact this will have on the job market and how large-scale the job losses may be. It is the rate that this change is going to take place which is most alarming and something which society should be prepared for.

This is already starting to take place in professional service companies, where the traditional pyramid of staff with juniors carrying out the more repetitive research tasks, are decreasing their workforce as AI and computers develop to become able to complete this work.

The same applies to the labour workforce, where robots are already being used in construction. Robots can lay bricks more quickly and accurately than humans and are therefore currently the most commercially viable option for the construction of aircraft hangers and large warehouses. Technically this is remarkable but will mean more people competing for fewer jobs.

At a personal level, looking at the impact this will have on my two young boys, I ask myself how I can help to steer and prepare them for the future, a future where they will experience a whole new level of technology than what we have been used to. Just as speaking a second language allows you to communicate in another country, learning the language of robots and computers will increase our future generations’ chances of success. Though the prospect of robots and AI being so present in our work environment can be daunting, I believe there are interesting new avenues that will open to create new opportunities for us. It is by factoring in these changes now, through education, training and open communication, that we can help to determine how the robotic and AI advances will affect us and future generations. Whilst the progress of robotic systems will replace lots of repetitive jobs, there will also be new jobs created for the servicing, maintenance and design of the next generation of robots.

I believe that through introducing children to coding and the language of computers early on, we can prepare them to start on the journey of understanding programming, preparing them for this technological change. Through this, we can steer the next generation of workers towards securing jobs that will be created through this advancement in technology.

No-one can tell where this future robotic revolution is going to take us, and there is no way of knowing precisely how it will affect the workforce. What we do know is that robots and AI can never completely replace humans. While robots are about precision and repetition, humans are fallible, have opinions and a creative side which quite simply will never be reproduced in robots.

Engineering will be able to solve so many of the world’s problems and challenges. It is our job to ensure we are being smart by including advancements in technology such as robotics and AI into our planning, work and education despite them being occasionally unnerving.

Through adopting this technology, we will be able to achieve so much scientifically and more. At Xi we are at the cutting edge of these advances, which positions us well, allowing us to see what is coming. Though I am excited by the advancements being made, the short term social impacts are quite worrying. It is therefore heartening to see that I am not alone in my vision of interfacing and integrating with Robotics and AI as more and more initiatives in schools, actions by the government and tech hubs such as our neighbours in CodeClan and CodeBase, gain more and more traction.

I look forward to seeing what clever methods we use to embrace the opportunities that will come with this technical revolution.