Western Nevada College prof says robots help and hurt available jobs
April 25, 2017
Robots may take away some jobs from humans, but they also create new ones, according to Western Nevada College Professor Emily Howarth.
"You look at that and say 'Look at all the jobs they took away,'" said the applied industrial technology professor after showing a video of robots assembling a Tesla car at the company's Fremont, Calif., plant. "Yes, but they added all these other jobs. And 20 percent of the jobs probably should be replaced with robots because they're dangerous and dirty."
Howarth spoke at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce lunch held Tuesday at the Gold Dust West and sponsored this month by United Federal Credit Union.
The new jobs for humans created by the programmed machines, said Howarth, include installing, monitoring, operating and programming the robots as well as safety, design and ethics for using them.
Howarth said we're in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution.
"There is still hard work to be done and a day's wage to earn, but now we use technology to augment the manufacturing environment," she said.
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She said plenty of jobs, from ambulance drivers to music composers, will remain robot-free but increasingly all kinds of businesses will use co-robots, which work hand in hand with humans.
Howarth listed the type or robots found today, from personal assistants such as Alexa from Amazon and Roomba vacuums to large industrial machines that assemble cars and do other repetitive tasks to robots that resemble humans and can respond to different situations.
"I know you think about this one taking away jobs," said Howarth after showing a video of an upright, humanoid machine capable of opening doors, walking in a snowy forest without falling down, and putting dishes in the dishwasher. "But think of someone who needs assistance or of law enforcement going into a domestic violence situation."
Howarth works with Team Captain, the Carson High School Robotics team, and local ROTC Cyber-Patriot teams who study cyber security, which can have an impact on programmed robots.
"We need individuals with skills to analyze business, life, or procedural problems and solve it by application of technology," said Howarth. "Students are learning to put that all together and leverage it."