In 2017, I returned to Canada from Sweden, the place I had spent a 12 months engaged on automation in mining. Shortly after my return, the New York Occasions revealed a chunk referred to as, “The Robots Are Coming, and Sweden Is Fine,” about Sweden’s embrace of automation whereas limiting human prices.
Though Swedes are apparently optimistic about their future alongside robots, different international locations aren’t as hopeful. One extensively cited study estimates that 47 per cent of jobs in the United States are at risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence.
Whether or not we prefer it or not, the robotic period is already upon us. The query is: is the Canadian financial system poised to flourish or flounder in a world the place robots take over the duties we don’t wish to do ourselves? The reply could shock you.
Trendy-day robots are how synthetic intelligence (AI) bodily interacts with us, and the world round us. Though some robots resemble humans, most don’t and are as a substitute particularly designed to autonomously perform advanced duties.
Over the previous couple of many years, robots have quickly grown from specialised units developed for choose trade functions to home items. You should buy a robotic to vacuum your floors, cut your grass and keep your home secure. Children play with educational robots in school, the place they study to code, and compete in robotic design groups that culminate in exciting international competitions.
The media is abuzz with tales concerning the newest technical claims, rumours and speculations concerning the secret developments of main worldwide companies, together with Waymo, Tesla, Apple, Volvo and GM.
Oh, and there are the dancing robots too, in fact.
NASA’s Perseverance rover hoping to land on the floor of Mars
I’ve been engaged on robotics and autonomous autos expertise in mining because the late Nineties. As such, I’ve been a part of an trade that’s present process a sea change, with totally autonomous machines steadily changing staff in darkish, soiled and harmful situations.
This robotic revolution is occurring behind the scenes in different industries too. Robots fill Amazon orders, manufacture stuff in factories, plant and pick crops, help on construction sites, and the checklist goes on.
The truth is, robots even build other robots. Will we quickly run out of jobs for individuals?
There are a lot of who paint a bleak picture of the future, the place robots and AI take away all of the “good jobs.” Though I totally acknowledge that we have to be conscious of attainable inequalities and unintended outcomes which may come up because of new applied sciences, I contend that Canadians have the potential to thrive.
However to make it occur, my colleagues and I agree that our nation wants a “robotics technique.”
In 2017, Canada launched the world’s first nationwide AI technique. Referred to as the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy and costing $125 million, the technique goals to strengthen Canada’s management in AI by funding institutes, universities and hospitals to fulfill key targets.
Is Canada maintaining with automation?
In its 2020 checklist of future jobs, the World Financial Discussion board listed “robotics engineers” as No. 10, in shut firm with “AI and machine studying specialists.” In Canada, I see enormous potential for our robotics trade, with firms akin to Clearpath Robotics, OTTO Motors, Kinova, Robotiq and Titan Medical already world leaders within the design and manufacture of robots for functions starting from supplies dealing with to surgical procedure.
Past constructing robots, Canada’s most important alternatives could lie within the elevated adoption of robots into economically essential trade sectors, together with mining, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation.
Because it seems, there may be hope. In accordance with a November 2020 report from Statistics Canada, Canadian companies that employed robots have additionally employed extra human staff, opposite to what it’s possible you’ll instinctively imagine. The truth is, they employed 15 per cent extra staff!
Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that we will all sit again and loosen up. Together with the elevated financial exercise that robots deliver to companies comes a shift in the workforce from “workers spending less time performing routine, manual tasks, in favour of non-routine, cognitive tasks.”
The roles of schooling and analysis and improvement — akin to new programs to train the next generation of robot-savvy Canadians and collaborative research clusters — are paramount. And so they must be mixed with a nationwide robotics technique and a progressive socioeconomic system that helps a transitioning workforce to make sure the success, well-being and happiness of Canadians, alongside our robotic pals.