Fear of losing your job to a robot is nothing new, but is it time the conversation shifted?
For as long as there have been robots, there have been fears they will take people’s jobs. The rise of the internet of things (IoT) echoes these concerns. An engineer no longer has to monitor a machine or switch on a bank of lights, IoT sensors can do it instead. Smart devices may not be an answer to the global talent shortage, but they’re starting to impact the work employees do.
The likes of heating, lighting and maintenance are already being automated, reducing routine tasks and eliminating others, in offices and factories around the globe. Demand for IoT is changing the role of facilities managers in a way that mirrors how self-service checkouts disrupted customer services in supermarkets or automatic doors and monitoring systems have affected guards and train drivers.
“The increased deployment of data-driven technologies is raising social, legal and ethical questions about the impact on people and their everyday lives. It’s vital that we find ways to engage with employees and the public, as well as identify the issues so they can be addressed,” says Julian David, chief executive of techUK.
Thought leaders are keen to highlight the strong demand for IoT isn’t going to lead to mass redundancies or answer post-Brexit talent shortages, an aging demographic or lead to less work for humans. Instead the focus is on IoT helping people do jobs better, with more productive and added-value tasks, empowered by data, redefining employment in the process.