How much of a threat does the robotics revolution represent for human employment in New Zealand in the next 30 years?
In order to understand the threats that robotics may pose to human employment in the future, it is important to examine the ways in which robots and computerization are already influencing different employment industries today, and how they have changed our labor practices in the past. If this information is then compared with current trends and statistics in New Zealand’s employment market conclusions can be drawn about how robotics might influence New Zealand employment in the next thirty years.
Evolution in employment methods has been seen in the past as jobs that required simple routines have been replaced by machines that can emulate the human effort many times faster and with less error (Stommel, Deng, & Xu, 2017). Examples of this include factory manufacturing, transportation of goods, computer processing of information, and cashier customer services (Frey & Osborne, 2013). Today we can see that robotics are moving beyond emulating and improving physical human labour, they are also developing with sensors and algorithms to provide “intelligent” services such as following customized instructions, identifying and fixing maintenance issues, and even caring for patients, such as the elderly or healthcare in general (Frey & Osborne, 2013). Focusing on robotics in today’s healthcare innovations is a good way to examine the current potential that robots have to replace many different aspects of human intelligence, from skilled physical work such as performing surgery, to intelligent personable skills such as providing emotional support for patients (Frey & Osborne, 2013). Over the past twenty years there has been a boom in creating social robots, that are designed to be artificial companions and helpers in areas such as hospitals or schools (Broadbent, 2017). In selected hospitals today computers and apps can help patients by providing easy ways for them to access specialized information and reminders regarding their treatment, as well as running symptoms through algorithms to create diagnoses (Frey & Osborne, 2013). This technology has been partially created due to concerns about the cost of healthcare with a population that is living longer, meaning there will be an increase in people requiring medical care and it is cheaper long term to use technology rather than paid human employees (Broadbent, 2017). Studies have reported that the effectiveness of computer technology in healthcare is around the same when compared to human employment for the same roles. However, patients in a recent study have reported to prefer robots to computers to deliver their healthcare needs, saying they enjoyed the assessment more and were more likely to follow its instructions (Broadbent, 2017). This could indicate that for healthcare, and presumably other emotionally intelligent people focused jobs, robots could be a long t...