Cristina Andersson: Robots will free us from routine work

Net 1/2014,  2014-04-16

Digitalization is swiftly transforming work and society. However, this is just the beginning. The next step is robotization.

Robotization is a globally rising trend that is hardly discussed in Finland. This was one of the starting points for Cristina Andersson and Jari Kaivo-oja’s book titled Boho Business released a couple of years ago. Last November they participated in organizing the first ever robotics week in Finland. Now, a consortium named Robotics Finland is being established for businesses and organizations within this industry.

Net 1/2014, andersson

In Cristina Andersson’s opinion, Finland is too fixated on just digitalization – people think it will suffice.

”Robots turn digital data into physical actions. A robot is an actor, just like a human being is”, Andersson says.

She points out that the evolving technology will have a major impact on society.

”In a world where employees are replaced by millions of robots, and where machines do the work, who will pay the taxes? The ethics of robotics draws attention to the fact that robots will be connected to the Internet and big data. All this requires legislative preparation,” Andersson says.

”The most important thing, however, is to think about the human’s role in all this. Robots present a huge opportunity for the human kind. Finally we will be doing what is most natural to the human being. All humans are creative.”

Robots care about seniors

Cristina Andersson believes that artificial intelligence will evolve rapidly. Robots equipped with superior sensory capability compared to humans and with creativity equivalent to the right hemisphere of the human brain will soon be reality. This, in turn, will increasingly bring robots from the industrial assembly facilities among humans.

”The robot market is estimated to grow to 190 billion dollars by the year 2020. The number of industrial robots will see a moderate growth, but service robots will increase exponentially,” she says.

”I believe service robotics will be employed in the care of the elderly. Machines will aid them in leading an independent life at home, and in hospitals they will free the nurses from strenuous routine tasks.”

Even though robots will assume some of the care work duties, nurses will still be needed.

”In any case, human resources are scarce. People say we need human touch and attention, yet elderly people are not taken to the bathroom often enough. A robot could enable them to have a good life and proper care – the opportunities are many, and they must be seized.”

More than an assistant

According to Andersson, robotics is advancing on two fronts: it is both replacing people and complementing people. The focus should be on the latter.

”The user interface between the human and the digital world may be a robot in the future. The humanists and educationalists must take up the challenge, otherwise robots become the technocratic creations of the engineers,” she predicts.

Also the jobs of the highly educated people are in danger, as artificial intelligence will partially replace the input of lawyers, teachers and journalists. On the other hand, this will open the opportunity to develop oneself and use one’s creativity. The assistant of a future specialist will be a robot which is in a constant connection to big data, checking everything heard and read in a nanosecond.

”Already, robots are capable of learning things independently. In the future, artificial intelligence will be far superior in intelligence than the human. How willing will it be to working with humans? Or will it tell them to go shoot some pool while it does the thinking,” Andersson says.

The source of wellbeing

The Finnish industry has turned its gaze abroad to find cheap labor. In Andersson’s opinion this is changing, as now you will head to wherever you can find the best robots. Despite the fact that this will not improve the employment situation, robots nevertheless create wealth.

”The industrial strategy must make sure that industry will remain in Finland. Thereby we create wealth that will enable us to continue as a welfare state. There is some good know-how in many fields that touch on robotics in this country, but what we are lacking are more ambitious robotics-related undertakings,”Andersson says.

In education, we should invest in creativity, innovativeness, negotiation skills and collaboration skills – alongside programming and mathematical skills. With robots doing the routine tasks, people are needed in creating new value.

Cristina Andersson is a contributor of Robotics Finland, an author and wincoach. After building a career in business management consultant in forest, metal and food industries, she now coaches both businesses and athletes in winning themselves and their competitors. Andersson’s book Winning Helix was release in 2005. A book titled BohoBusiness, co-authored with Jari Kaivo-oja in 2012, will be released in English this spring.

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Published in the Net Magazine 1/2014,  2014-04-16

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