3/5 Robby the Job Robbing Robot?

For those of you of a certain age, you will remember Robby the robot who first appeared in the 1956 film ‘Forbidden Planet’.  Robby is a robot designed and built by the mysterious Dr Morbius who has programmed Robby to be his mechanical servant.  Morbus has based Robby’s design on information from his studies of an ancient, highly intelligent species called the Krell.  The story was based loosely on Shakespeare’s the Tempest.  Robby exhibits artificial intelligence and a developing personality.


Little did we realise that just over 60 years later the robot concept has never been more real.  A recent study carried out by Henrik Lindberg (Visual Capitalist) illustrated which jobs are mostly at risk from being taken over by a robot. 

Should we be worried or will it eventually lead to a better way of life for us all?

Lindberg’s chart indicates that it will be those that work in retail and fast food restaurants that will lose out first.  In the next decade or two 50% of jobs in existence, today will have gone the way of the dinosaurs. 

The Future of Employment

But to take a moment to also consider the jobs/tasks that robots can do that reduces the need for us to risk our lives, nuclear industry, bomb disposal, chemical plants etc.  Machines will destroy some jobs but the technology will also create new ones. 

The future of robotics will create changes of business models across all industries.  Some of the latest robotics are Hadrian X that can lay 1000 standard bricks in one hour or Tally an autonomous shelf auditing robot that roams the supermarket aisles to ensure that there is enough stock on the shelves.  DeLaval the Swedish agricultural equipment manufacturer has recently added a new cow-milking robot to its portfolio. 

FutureScape, Worldwide Robotics 2017 Predictions report reveals that the reality of the coming robotics shift that will jeopardise the livelihood of millions of people.


The International Data Corporation unveiled its top 10 predictions for world robotics for 2107 and beyond.

  1. Robot as a Service - by 2019 30% of commercial service robotic applications will be in the form of a robot as a service business model, reducing the cost of robot deployment
  2. Chief Robotics Officer - by 2019 30% of leading organisations will implement a Chief Robotics officer role or define a robotics specific function within the business.
  3. Evolving Competitive Landscape - by 2020 companies will have a greater choice of vendors as new players enter the $80 billion ICT market to support robotics deployment.
  4. Robotics Talent Crunch - by 2020 robotics growth will accelerate the talent race, leaving 35% of robotics related jobs vacant while the average salary increases by at least 60%.
  5. Robotics Will Face Regulation - by 2019 the government will be implementing robotics specific regulation to preserve jobs and to address concerns about security, safety and privacy.
  6. Software Defined Robot - by 2020 60% of all robots will depend on cloud-based software to define new skills, cognitive capabilities and application programmes leading to the formation of a robotics cloud marketplace.
  7. Collaborative Robot - by 2018 30% of all new robotic deployments will be smart collaborative robots that operate three times faster than today's robots and are safe for work around humans.
  8. Intelligent Robonet - by 2020 40% of commercial robots will become connected to a mesh of shared intelligence resulting in a 200% improvement in overall robotic operational efficiency.
  9. Growth Outside Factory - by 2019 35% of leading organisations in logistics, health, utilities and resources will explore the use of robots to automate operations.
  10. Robotics for E-Commerce by 2018 45% of the 200 leading global e-commerce and omnichannel commerce companies will deploy robotics systems in their order fulfilment, warehousing and delivery options.

So with the coming of the robot age what can we do to protect jobs?  Perhaps a career change at least and a most and more important we must start with the workforce of tomorrow.  Science, technology, engineering and maths should be prioritised in our education systems.  This was a priority in the United States under the Obama administration.  Under Trump not so much.