As a London-based company with a reasonable level of exposure to all things technological, it takes a seriously impressive advance to animate us into writing about it, but the über-skilled robotic chef recently unveiled at the Hannover Messe industrial fair by Moley Robotics ('Moley') has us spooked. This is a bot capable of preparing a bowl of crab bisque in twenty-five minutes – which ordinarily would be news enough – but the really interesting feature is its pair of hands, which are eerily similar to human ones and reveal the extent to which robotics is beginning to threaten large swathes of the job market as never before:
1. Entry-Level Jobs – Going! The amazing growth being registered in the market for domestic robots is an ominous sign of things to come for those students without the necessary skills to defend themselves against the merciless march of technology: according to the wonderfully-named International Federation of Robotics ('IFR'), 2.7m household robots were sold in 2013, a 35% year-on-year increase; from 2014-2017, an estimated 24m personal service robots will depart the shelves. Entry-level jobs like cleaning risk entering the history books in at least some (post-)developed countries.
2. Student Jobs – Going! For now, Moley's robo-chef has limitations that render its applicability rather limited: it can only cook using prepared ingredients. Advanced AI and the ability to use a knife are beyond it – for now. But given a few years, is it really so hard to believe that the general state of robotic technology would have progressed to the point where traditional student employment opportunities in colleges, cafes and bars would be under attack from glorified humanoid vending machines?
3. Graduate Jobs – Going! As we have written about previously, robots are already displacing humans in Japanese banks – not as tellers, but as customer advisors. For now, this is still a phenomenon in its infancy. But once mass production and economies of scale begin to have a serious impact on the pricing of this type of investment, big companies may find it irresistible to dispose of many of their human staff like so much organic trash; SMEs may well follow in their slipstream. Only the very best students – those with outstanding academic credentials – will be able to shield themselves from these dystopian developments.