In 2017, I returned to Canada from Sweden, the place I had spent a 12 months engaged on automation in mining. Shortly after my return, the New York Instances revealed a bit known as, “The Robots Are Coming, and Sweden Is Nice,” about Sweden’s embrace of automation whereas limiting human prices.
Though Swedes are apparently optimistic about their future alongside robots, different international locations aren’t as hopeful. One extensively cited examine estimates that 47 per cent of jobs in the USA are prone to being changed by robots and synthetic intelligence.
Whether or not we prefer it or not, the robotic period is already upon us. The query is: Is the Canadian economic system poised to flourish or flounder in a world the place robots take over the duties we don’t need to do ourselves? The reply might shock you.
Robots are in all places
Trendy-day robots are how synthetic intelligence (AI) bodily interacts with us, and the world round us. Though some robots resemble people, most don’t and are as an alternative particularly designed to autonomously perform advanced duties.
Over the previous couple of many years, robots have quickly grown from specialised gadgets developed for choose business purposes to home items. You should buy a robotic to vacuum your flooring, reduce your grass and hold your own home safe. Children play with educational robots in school, the place they be taught to code, and compete in robotic design groups that culminate in thrilling worldwide competitions.
Robots are additionally showing in our hospitals, promising to assist us combat the COVID-19 pandemic and performing different health-care duties in safer and extra environment friendly methods.
The media is abuzz with tales in regards to the newest technical claims, rumours and speculations in regards to the secret developments of main worldwide companies, together with Waymo, Tesla, Apple, Volvo and GM.
And NASA simply landed the Perseverance rover on Mars, with an autonomous helicopter known as Ingenuity connected to its stomach.
Oh, and there are the dancing robots too, in fact.
Robots behind the scenes
I’ve been engaged on robotics and autonomous automobiles know-how in mining for the reason that late Nineteen Nineties. As such, I’ve been a part of an business that’s present process a sea change, with totally autonomous machines steadily changing staff in darkish, soiled and harmful situations.
A totally autonomous underground load-haul-dump car developed for Swedish mining gear producer Epiroc AB and in partnership with Canadian robotics agency MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.
(Joshua Marshall), Writer offered
This robotic revolution is going on behind the scenes in different industries too. Robots fill Amazon orders, manufacture stuff in factories, plant and choose crops, help on construction websites, and the listing goes on.
In actual fact, robots even construct different robots. Will we quickly run out of jobs for folks?
Robots in Canada
There are a lot of who paint a bleak image of the longer term, the place robots and AI take away all of the “good jobs.” Though I totally acknowledge that we should be conscious of attainable inequalities and unintended outcomes that may come up on account of new applied sciences, I contend that Canadians have the potential to thrive.
However to make it occur, my colleagues and I agree that our nation wants a “robotics technique.”
In 2017, Canada launched the world’s first nationwide AI technique. Referred to as the Pan-Canadian Synthetic Intelligence Technique and costing $125 million, the technique goals to strengthen Canada’s management in AI by funding institutes, universities and hospitals to fulfill key goals.
In its 2020 listing of future jobs, the World Financial Discussion board listed “robotics engineers” as No. 10, in shut firm with “AI and machine studying specialists.” In Canada, I see enormous potential for our robotics business, with firms reminiscent of Clearpath Robotics, OTTO Motors, Kinova, Robotiq and Titan Medical already world leaders within the design and manufacture of robots for functions starting from supplies dealing with to surgical procedure.
Past constructing robots, Canada’s most important alternatives might lie within the elevated adoption of robots into economically necessary business sectors, together with mining, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation.
And but, Canada stands out as the solely G7 nation and not using a robotics technique.
The robotic revelation
Because it seems, there’s hope. Based on a November 2020 report from Statistics Canada, Canadian companies that employed robots have additionally employed extra human staff, opposite to what chances are you’ll instinctively imagine. In actual fact, they employed 15 per cent extra staff!
Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply that we are able to all sit again and loosen up. Together with the elevated financial exercise that robots carry to companies comes a shift within the workforce from “staff spending much less time performing routine, guide duties, in favour of non-routine, cognitive duties.”
Cellular robotics researchers from the Ingenuity Labs Analysis Institute at Queen’s College.
(Heshan Fernando), Writer offered
The roles of schooling and analysis and growth — reminiscent of new packages to coach the following era of robot-savvy Canadians and collaborative analysis clusters — are paramount. And so they must be mixed with a nationwide robotics technique and a progressive socioeconomic system that helps a transitioning workforce to make sure the success, well-being and happiness of Canadians, alongside our robotic associates.