Robotics and digitisation - benefits

24 February 2017

Digitisation has come in for a lot of negative comments. People worry as is always the case about their future. Let's go back in time to one of the earliest advances, the wheel. Without the wheel things had to be carried or dragged, requiring a lot of labour. When the wheel arrived, how many people’s jobs might have been affected? Where four people could carry something, if there was a wheel only two would be needed: one at each end of the journey to do the lifting, and one to do the pushing. In terms of effort saved, who now knows. But there were new jobs. If someone wanted wheels, people were needed to make them turning out different sizes for different loads.

Wheels would have been valuable, and could be stolen easily. So carvers and engravers could have created patterns on stones and wood to identify the owners. More jobs: designers for the patterns, engravers to create them. And artists to embellish them. Yet more jobs.

Because transport was easier with wheels, there would be more trade, more goods taken over bigger distances to newer markets. Spices, food, coal, and animals are examples of what could be traded over bigger distances, all providing more jobs.

The wheel is a simple example of taking advantage of technology, of technology being an enabler. Technology can be used to create more jobs, more trade, and a better life for everyone. People can do more in less time giving them more free time to do other things – to learn, to sing, to dance, maybe even to have a day off just to think. And some of these relaxations will lead to new ideas which in turn will lead to improved life for everyone.

The same is true now for robotics and digitisation. Who would be without their phone, their washing machine, their readily available drinking water? These all depend on technology. We all need to embrace advances in technology and apply them to our own lives and work to bring about the benefits they enable.

Technology is an enabler. We are the drivers. Progress depends on how we use technology for improving life for everyone. Fear of change is natural, but we should be ready to embrace new technology and work out how best to use it for the benefit of everyone. Rather than worry we should consider how best to grasp the opportunities to improve the benefits that technological change can enable for society.

Please share your thoughts on how digitisation and robotics can be applied to your company.

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