More companies are turning to smart machines to save money on slow, expensive human employees. Here’s everything you need know about automation – and what it means for your job.
With soft, nimble fingers, an arm stretches out to delicately pluck an apple from a shelf and place it gently into a basket.
It performs the task again with a bag of limes and again with a pepper, never tiring, never complaining.
This is a prototype robotic arm being tested by Ocado, the British online supermarket. The irregular shape and delicate flesh of these common groceries have meant they tend to be packed by human workers at Ocado’s warehouses. But the company is pursuing robotic technology that could assist these human warehouse workers but still handle produce safely, making the process faster and cheaper for the company.
Ocado is far from the only company pursuing automated workers. It is happening in hospitals, law firms, the stock market. The list goes on.
The question is… how does this affect the human workforce? How might it affect you?
BBC Future Now asked a panel of experts for their views, as part of our special series on the ‘Grand Challenges’ facing humanity. We hear a lot about doom-and-gloom surrounding robots stealing our jobs, but what will actually happen? Who’s at risk, and what could your workplace actually look like in five years?
The answers might surprise you.