By Krishna Mukherjee, Manager, Industry Intelligence Practice, CMR

Are they really going to devour our jobs? Will they make our lives easier or more difficult?  There are a number of questions in our mind as the media today is awash with news about robots taking away our jobs, giving us sleepless nights.

According to reports, the era of robots and artificial intelligence will lead to about 5.1 million job losses over the next five years. World Economic Forum, however, predicted the loss to be at around 7.1 million.

Recently, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also touched upon topics such as automation and robots and why robots of the future should be charged. He said: “Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things.”

Someone like Gates touching upon robotic topics means robots are really going to be a reality in the near future. Not only him, Vikas Sikka of Infosys also reiterated the fact that artificial intelligence has the potential to cut down employees strength.

On domestic front, the magnitude of the job loss is yet to be evaluated. But going back to the 1980’s, when the panic gripped in over losing jobs as computers were going to be the new normal of life. There were protests as labour unions believed that computers would displace them and make them jobless.

Any new technology or disruption is marked by such protest. The anti-computer protest was one such example, but presently without giving a second thought, we can say that computers have done wonders rather than any damage. Today, you just imagine any job without a computer, is it possible? Just imagine the job of any banker, offier without a computer.

The crux is in any economy any new technology brings in disruption, leading to some pros and cons, but it’s all well that ends well. Although robots are a far-fetched dream in India, but if they really help in curtailing any mammoth task then why not try them. Though nobody knows about the hindsight, but even robots require humans to control themselves, which would again put human brains to task.

There’s no harm if we land into this robotic era and see how robots share our systems, our offices without any humanly requirements. Well, I will not mind to report to a robot in the near future. It would be good to see how my expressionless robotic boss yells, smiles, praises. No offenses please 🙂