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Rise of the robots

The robots are coming: self-driving cars may lead the headlines, but vast amounts of human work will be displaced by machines. We commonly think of “blue collar” jobs such as taxi or truck drivers, low-paid fast food workers and so on. Industries such as transportation, logistics and agriculture are obvious examples of where robots can easily displace human workers.

Part of our Seismic Shifts series

But it’s not just low-skilled jobs that will be affected. The type of tasks that computers can do better than humans is changing fast. 

Already computers are now outperforming humans at games, such as Go or Texas Hold’em poker. So the combination of AI and robotics opens the door to far more complex human roles being displaced—robotic surgeons or airline pilots are easily imaginable.

Robots mean you can improve productivity in any business process that currently has a physical, human touch point.

Of course, we’ve had robots and automation for more than 40 years. But there are several converging trends that put us on the cusp of dramatic changes. 

For instance, the proliferation of sensors we’re starting to see makes a new level of autonomy possible, to the extent that it’s now feasible to safely use robots side-by-side with humans on the most delicate of tasks. 

Today’s software allows for automation to be self training and adaptive, that makes it much cheaper and easier to program and manage machines.

Watch how ThoughtWorks is helping robot maker Xenex eliminate hospital-transmitted infections.

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