Human vs. Robot: what will automation be capable of in the future?
“Robotgeddon” has become an awfully popular expression nowadays. The term was put together from the words “robot” and “armageddon.” Could AI really replace humans? We investigated a bit.
We are living in the golden age of digitalisation: in the past few years, many new technologies have emerged. Two significant ones are artificial intelligence and automation. These rapidly developing fields have an effect on almost every area of business. If businesses want to work efficiently and successfully, they have no other choice but become better at AI and automation.
Automation or Artificial Intelligence?
First of all it is important that you know the difference between automation and artificial intelligence.
Automation means that a hardware (or software) does an activity automatically which could otherwise be done by using actual manpower. This is also the field where robotics is most useful. A machine that had been set up appropriately is able to do the task it has been programmed to do. Thanks to automation, you can put an end to boring and repetitive activities, which can easily and perfectly be done by a machine instead. The most important areas where automation is used are manufacturing processes, online marketing and sales.
You could already read about the effects of AI on education in a previous article of ours. Let us go through again what artificial intelligence is. AI is no different than a set of computers and automated softwares that normally require human cognitive functions (e.g. the ability to learn).
The most important companies to consider when talking about artificial intelligence are Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Artificial intelligence is able to help with a lot of tasks nowadays, such as: image recognition, Machine Learning, translation and even face recognition.
You can see that there are similarities between the two technologies, but there is a significant difference, too: while AI is able to learn and apply the things it had learned in practice, automation can only perform those monotone tasks that it had been programmed to do.
Today’s possibilities of automation
Nowadays automation is used by many companies for a number of reasons and aims. See a few typical examples below.
Thanks to automation, you can save a lot of time and manpower, and indirectly – a significant amount of money when it comes to testing tasks. Be it the testing of softwares of websites, QA testing or link testing, you can run as many test as you want, any time you want. It’s not only the process of the actual testing that can be automated but reporting as well. By doing this, you can save money, time, and improve efficiency.
We at Régens do believe in a paperless office – that’s why we created our electronic filing software for example, and we’re also constantly working on new solutions. Now that NAV made it obligatory to report and send them those electronic invoices that surpass a given amount of money, automation can be more important than ever. By filing and processing electronic documents and invoices automatically, you cannot only reduce manpower that’s needed in these processes, but it is also a much better solution when it comes to protecting the environment.
At most workplaces, the recruitment, interviewing and hiring of new staff is done by HR specialists hired for directly these tasks, or someone else who is trained to do these tasks. Even though you cannot completely get rid of manpower with the help of automation, it can make the HR process much easier. You can, for example, use an automated software to deal with the most monotone phases of the recruitment process: filtering out the candidates’ CVs, or sending the personalised but automated e-mails to them.
We already have an article about data visualisation, too. However, we didn’t write about how automation can be of help when it comes to dataviz. It is a common problem that data engineers need to work with such a big amout of data that it wouldn’t be possible to even process the data manually – let alone visualise them.
An automated software, however, is capable of process a large amount of data (even if the entries don’t even match each other or the database’s format), and put them into a format where they are easier to visualise. Then, by using an algorithm, you can visualise the data. The software can even help you decide on the format and type of the dataviz you will come up with.
Of course, the list could go on and on forever – there is no limit on the opportunities that lie within automation. Every day, newer and newer fields emerge where this technology can be utilised. One of our favourites is the collaboration of Google’s DeepMind and Oxford University, which has created a professional lip-reading programme with the help of a large amount of data from BBC. Thanks to the amount of the data used, it is much more accurate than a professional lip-reader.
So will robots take our jobs?
This subject has inspired many writers, scientists and filmmakers as well, and not accidentally: you can notice a tendency, especially among the jobs which do not require excessive education and strong analytical skills. Just think about tickets that can be purchased from machines or the self-checkouts at supermarkets.
You’ve got no reason to worry though. An article from Forbes sums up beautifully the biggest paradox that comes to mind in connection with automation and AI. It is a generally accepted view that a software can do a human job more efficiently and with a smaller chance of errors than an actual human being. If you want to apply this theory to all aspects of life, then that means that robots are actually better at educating people and raising children, too. And the paradox is right there: if humans do have to compete with such smart machines, then there are also machines among these which educate and train humans to be better and to take advantage of their qualities (and these people will continue to build robots and make them even better so that the robots can further educate them, and so on). This way, it is already not so easy to imagine that robots will take jobs, right?
To sum up
Although there are many dystopian movies and novels about the thought of robots taking over the world one day and people losing their jobs, there is no reason to worry about such things. Automation and artificial intelligence are rather a blessing than a curse – they actually don’t take jobs from people but complement them.