Are Robots Taking Over the World?

27th Aug 2021
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What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of robots? Pre-programmed mechanical arms that weld doors, insert parts and spray paint bodywork in large car production lines? Or machines that whizz around, picking up items from crates and delivering them to packing stations in large online shopping warehouses? 

Actually, robots come in all shapes and sizes: They aren’t just for the big car manufacturers or vast shopping warehouses. In fact, 88% of businesses across all industries are planning to install some form of robotic technology into their infrastructure.

But how are businesses using robotics? Why are they planning to integrate them into their businesses? And, are the rumours surrounding robots and job obsoletion and unemployment true? 

Let’s find out…

What do robots do?

Put simply, robots are advanced machines that can perform tasks and activities without human interference. As we’ve established, giant mechanical robots can be used to speed up production in car factories or pack mass shopping orders for big online shopping corporations, but regular businesses use robots for all sorts of everyday tasks too: from installing chatbots to answer online customer queries and utilising automation to streamline business processes to exercising artificial intelligence to process and analyse data, for instance.

The benefits robots bring to businesses  

Robots are perfectly designed to perform basic tasks that are either too mind-numbing, laborious or time-consuming for humans to perform. Tasks like data entry, reporting, and auditing, for example. 

Structured tasks or processes like these can be handed over to a robot who will methodically work through them quickly, without any human error. If these types of low-skilled administrative tasks can be passed onto a robot to complete, it frees up the employees within the business to then focus on the important tasks that can drive the business forwards. Tasks like developing clever strategies to improve production performance or creating new value propositions to increase customer demand.

In short, installing robots into a business improves its productivity, efficiency and effectiveness with minimal effort.

But, although the benefits robots can bring to businesses are clear, they can also bring some disadvantages.

The disadvantages robots bring to businesses

Although they’re excellent at performing basic, structured tasks like answering customer queries or inputting data, robots are terrible at making decisions that require some form of emotional or contextual understanding. They are, at the end of the day, just machines. They can’t understand emotion or context, which means they can’t make sound judgement calls. For instance, some think robots would be good in customer service departments. But, if a customer is upset and wants to make a complaint, a robot won’t be able to respond empathetically to that customer. This is likely to exacerbate the situation and could result in the loss of that customer.

Robots can only be used to perform structured, methodical tasks, not ones that require emotional intelligence and understanding.

But despite this, we’re constantly surrounded by reports that robots are taking jobs, ruining industries and destroying livelihoods.

Is this the case?!

Will robots take over the world?

According to reports, there are approximately 20 million robots in use around the world, and 1.5 million jobs have been lost, across all industries, as a result.

This isn’t a great surprise considering that one robot can do the work of 1.6 humans. Plus, human employees need breaks, they need time off, they call in sick and they demand pay-rises and perks. Robots don’t require any of that. This explains why the number of robots doing human jobs is increasing by 14% each year. That, and the fact that the cost to install robotics has dropped by 40% over the last decade, making it easier and cheaper than ever to integrate robotic solutions into a business, means that the fear of robots taking over the world is real.

But, as we’ve established, robots have big limitations. They can’t be trusted to make sound judgements or decisions that require emotional or contextual input. Robots can perform the logical aspects of a task or an activity in complete isolation, with little or no human input. But, when it comes to tasks that require a degree of emotional intelligence, they’ll always need a leader at the wheel to steer them through and make sure they stay on the right track.

In conclusion: Robots will always work best with human involvement.

If businesses can learn to work with robots, then they have the opportunity to improve the efficiency, quality and productivity of what they produce and how they run their business. 

So, robots are taking jobs, yes. But they will never completely take over and humans will always be needed.

This article was brought to you by Tax Cloud

If you’re interested in installing some form of robotics into your business, why not try Tax Cloud. It’s the UK’s first online R&D tax credit portal. Instead of manually filling in an R&D claim for your client, use Tax Cloud to automate the process. It’s supported by R&D tax experts at Myriad Associates so you and your clients can rest assured that the R&D tax claim you’re submitting is accurate, mistake-free and can also secure the maximum amount of R&D tax relief for your client.

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