Why I Believe Robots Will Help Improve Our Work-Life Balance

Posted by hritikaggarwal in Sci-Tech, Society
March 4, 2017

A professional in India spends approximately 8.5 hours a day and six days a week at work, adding up to almost 100,000 hours of his or her lifetime!

Despite this substantial investment of time, there are common challenges – from unfair practices to burnout and to boredom – that almost every worker faces. In India, particularly in smaller companies, employees are not paid for working overtime. In some companies, people work for 11 hours a day! Extensive workload, especially on managers, lead to high stress affecting both performance and individual’s health.

Alexander, the friendly robot, visits the Indoor Park, London, to interact with children by telling them classic fairy tales, singing and dancing. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Westfield)

As a high school student, I spend a lot of time thinking about my future and hoping that these negative trends change before I enter the workforce. I often think how new technologies can change the way we live and work. There is one technological innovation, in particular, that I think offers a solution to the problems that workers or professionals face today – Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence is a technology in which machines not only understand but also perceive data provided to them. For example, normal machines work only on a set of data that the programmer has entered, but an artificially intelligent machine can generate more data from its experience, understand and comprehend this data and act accordingly. This machine acts just like a human being with the abilities to learn and think on its own.

How Is This A Solution?

In the modern era, machines are human’s best friend. And machines with a brain of their own will be of twice the help. They could be used in nearly any workplace, reducing the workload and improving the efficiency and quality of the work at the same time. Imagine, for example, if everyone had a personal assistant (PA), like Julie Desk, Google Home or x.ai, in the form of an artificially intelligent robot, our lives would have become so much easier and more organised! These assistants can not only help you manage your work efficiently by making a detailed and do-able schedule but with their power of understanding, they can also track the conditions under which you work best, and customise your schedule to optimise your happiness and work performance.

Beyond scheduling, the robots can also improve life by performing accurate health checkups, saving you the trip to your doctor. And even if you get sick, your PA will make arrangements and even do some of your work for you. They can make the time you take to commute to work more productive with self-driven cars and smart traffic maps. They can even help you in your home by keeping stock in your kitchen and ordering groceries online as soon as items finish, or by overseeing your children’s homework, enabling you to be less distracted while at work.

Won’t This Reduce Jobs?

Many people fear that replacing human labour with machinery may lead to widespread unemployment, but this surely is not the case! While these robots can take on tedious, repetitive tasks like scheduling and errands, nothing is better than a human when it comes to generating new, innovative approaches and solutions. These robots will be able to work hand-in-hand with humans at improving the technology and creating high-tech tools for the future. Humans will still be the ones developing and pioneering new ideas in AI, while the robots will be able to physically build the new technology with more speed and accuracy than humans. Even in fields like medicine, machines will be able to perform surgery with greater precision than doctors, but human doctors will always be the ones controlling the machines and making life-saving decisions.

Though AI will eliminate repetitive jobs like manufacturing and factory line jobs which do not require much creativity or original thought, it will ultimately lead to more jobs in creative, consulting and technology fields. As the automation of one task increases, demand for people to do related tasks that are still beyond the machines’ comprehension and capability also increases. Looking at past examples, replacing some bank tellers with ATMs ultimately made it cheaper to open new bank branches, thus creating many more jobs in sales and customer service. Similarly, e-commerce has increased overall employment in retailing. The inevitable job losses that occur in the short term are more than likely to be offset in the long term by the creation of new jobs.

Artificial Intelligence isn’t too far ahead in the future of work and offers prime solutions to improving worker happiness, productivity, and eliminating worker exploitation. This will improve the lives of the average worker, and generate more opportunities for growth and innovation.