Historically, experts believed that robots would only threaten blue-collar jobs, but they’re beginning to challenge white-collar professions, as well.
While some economists believe this “Second Machine Age” will ultimately create more jobs, others predict that several unlucky employees will be pushed out of work in the near future.
Can a robot do your job?
The RoboThespian robot can crack jokes and break out into song.
Engineered Arts, a British company, has created a fully interactive and multilingual robot called the RoboThespian. Controlled by a tablet, it can hold eye contact, guess a person’s mood and age, break into song, and will soon be able to walk, hop, and jump.
In addition to performing on stage — including taking the lead role in new a production of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis — the RoboThespian gives guided tours to the public at museums, science centers, and other visitor attractions.
White collar jobs are not immune to the Second Machine Age. Anesthesiologists, who are the highest-paying professionals in America, could be pushed out of the room now that Johnson & Johnson has developed a system called Sedasys, which delivers low-level anesthesia at a much cheaper price.
The FDA approved Sedasys for patients 18 and older, but several anesthesiologists are sounding the alarm and challenging the safety of the technology.
Botlr can recognize that the room door has been opened and then lift the lid on the storage bin that contains the delivery.
Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, is enhancing customer service thanks to their newest employee: a robotic bellhop named Botlr.
Designed by the Silicon Valley startup Savioke, Botlr, which has a camera and other sensors, independently delivers items from the hotel lobby to guest rooms. It makes its way to the elevator, sends a command for the door to open, travels to its destination to make the delivery, and plugs itself into a recharging station after completing the errand.
Robot are revolutionizing the restaurant industry.
A noodle-slicing robot named Foxbot can be found at Dazzling Noodles, an open-kitchen restaurant chain in North China’s Shanxi province. Not only does Foxbot make the perfect knife-cut noodles, a specialty of Shanxi, but it does it faster than any human hand and can clean itself.
There’s another robot chef making crab bisque from scratch, thanks to 20 motors, 24 joints, and 129 sensors. The robot, designed by Moley Robotics, can complete the complicated dish in 30 minutes and even plates it.
Stock and equity analysts will be competing with smart machines that can precisely analyze and predict the behavior of investments.
Automated services called “Robo-advisers” are on the rise and starting to replace financial advisers and planners. One such example is SigFig, which uses algorithms to tailor portfolios for its customers.
Robotic jockeys sit on camels waiting for the start of a race at Dubai Camel Racing Club.
Camel racing is one of the oldest traditions in the Middle East, but the ancient pastime is undergoing a modern makeover. Historically, lightweight children as young as two or three years old were used as jockeys, until it was outlawed in 2002.
Robot jockeys were introduced in 2003. They were cumbersome and heavy a decade ago, but today, the remote controlled robots — which even resemble jockeys — weigh only a few pounds.
Toyota has been experimenting with more than just cars; the automobile manufacturer has created a violin-playing robot that has 17 joints in its hands and arms, allowing it to achieve human-like dexterity. Toyota aims to introduce the robot to nursing homes and hospitals.
There’s another robot rocking out called Z-Machines, a three-piece band with 78 fingers, 22 arms, and a surprisingly human sound.
Offices are hoping to cut costs on receptionists by introducing robot secretaries, such as Saya the secretary, developed by Japanese researchers. Saya can respond to questions and even hold a basic conversation with her 300 word and 700 phrase vocabulary.
Associated Press has been automatically generating over 3,000 stories about US corporate earnings each quarter since June 2014. AP says that this automation of earnings reports is freeing up valuable reporting time and allowing their journalists to spend more time breaking bigger new stories. Another benefit: the automated earnings stories have fewer errors than the manually-written reports.
Retail Sales Associates
Humanoid ChihiraAico, clad in a Japanese kimono, greets a customer at an entrance of a department store in Tokyo.
Developed by Toshiba Corp, the female humanoid named ChihiraAico can smile, sing, and never gets bored of welcoming customers to her upscale department store located in Tokyo, Japan.
She cannot answer questions, but can break into a rosy-lipped smile as customers approach and runs through a pre-recorded spiel.
People communicate with ALSOK’s security robot ‘Guard Robo i’ in Nagakute, Japan.
The University of Birmingham has introduced a robot security guard named Bob, who patrols office headquarters and scans rooms using its 3D sensors and HD cameras.
The researchers emphasize that Bob will simply add support to security teams, rather than completely replace humans.
US Army Specialist makes repairs to a remote controlled robot called ‘Talon.’
“Talon robots” — rugged platforms which can clear live grenades in addition to a variety of other tasks — have been in active military service since 2000.
Robotic arms controlled by a doctor demonstrate robotic surgery.
Surgeons already use automated systems to assist them with low-invasive procedures; but soon enough, robots could be equipped to complete certain surgeries on their own.
Robotic surgery would mean fewer complications, less pain and blood loss, quicker recovery, and less noticeable scars.
Robot waiters are starting to pop up in various restaurants in China. The robots take orders, carry dishes to customers, and even offer simple greetings in Mandarin Chinese.
This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Kathleen Elkins is an editorial intern at Business Insider.
Image: Twendy-One, a robot designed to help elderly and disabled people around the house, demonstrates serving toast at Waseda University in Tokyo. REUTERS/Issei Kato.