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Are Robots Taking Our Jobs?

30 Jan 16:00 by Matt Bryson

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After Tesco HQ let go 1700 jobs in the last year, it has been confirmed that store employees will also be let go. Tesco Extra stores are facing the loss of 9000 members of staff as the supermarket executives strive to ‘simplify’ what they do (Sky News) and save £1.5 billion. 

With the changes being made to save money, Tesco could look to increase their ‘Scan as you Shop’ service, as well as self-service checkout machines. The implementation of more of these autonomous systems is likely to decrease the amount of human contact customer’s experiences at the supermarket. These services are often cost-efficient as they are quicker than a standard checkout (meaning more people can be served in the same timeframe) and are generally cheaper than employing people (BBC). The move from human employees to machines is always going to link to the idea that ‘robots’ are replacing people, but does this always have to be negative?

In some circumstances, no. The Guardian reported that the UK is investing millions into ‘microrobots’ to work in difficult and sometimes dangerous locations. The robots will be able to move underneath the road and fix leaking pipes and broken cables that would normally need for a whole road to be excavated. Water and air versions will also be created to inspect oil rigs and nuclear plants. The ‘investigator’ robots are likely to be around 1cm long and will work autonomously. Their bigger counterparts, the ‘worker bots’, will be controlled remotely by an engineer. These robots will be a great addition to the human workforce, opening up opportunities for professionals to work with robotics, as well as protecting them from unsafe worksites.

Robots are becoming part of our everyday lives, but as more of a collaboration to achieve better results, rather than a replacement. As investments into robotics increase, so does the need for engineers and technicians to maintain and develop the technology. So, whilst on the surface, a machine may take the job of a human, each robot opens up the chance for people to explore a new career. 

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