The invention and development of the steam engine at the beginning of the 18th century marked the beginning of a great change in the way of working. This technology was first used to pump water from mines: At the end of the century, and was used in cotton fabric factories to power the looms: the first example of mass production. Many people left their homes in the countryside and migrated to the city to work in factories and later, in offices.
In recent decades, computers have once again changed the organization of society. Any work that can be reduced to simple steps or systematized can be left to computers or robots designed for a specific task, such as painting a car with Spray. Robots can also do the dangerous work of the factories, the one that people prefer not to do, like, manipulate hot plates. By delegating repetitive and dangerous tasks on robots, people spend less time on the production line. In offices, computers process most of the repetitive work: they make calculations, for example, or print the documents. Devices such as laser printers or scanners have increased productivity. Thanks to the laptop and mobile phone, workers have stopped being tied to their desks. New technologies, such as virtual keyboards, flash memory or digital pencils have also allowed more and more people to work from their homes, or during their travels.
Some jobs can only be done by humans. The decisions of doctors, for example, are too complex and subtle for a computer. The diagnosis and treatment of a patient is usually carried out in person. Even so, technology plays a key role in most jobs. Divers use underwater welding techniques to repair platforms and oil pipelines; submarines use satellite navigation to find their exact location. The technology of radars and satellites helps meteorologists predict the weather, which in turn is useful for farmers. Modern materials, such as Kevlar, help protect firefighters when they put out a fire. Forensics uses fingerprint scanners to analyze samples of the scene of the rhyme and the cashiers of the warehouses use the scanners with the barcodes of the products to charge quickly. Executives use the calculation possibilities of microprocessors to track orders and forecast market conditions.
People work, among other reasons, for money, and technology has also changed the way we access our money.
Today, it is almost invisible: numbers in bank accounts, which are transferred directly from the employer or customer accounts. Sometimes we use cash, but every time we use more plastic cards to make payments.
“One in ten workers in the world’s car assembly lines is a robot, which multiplies productivity.”
Although the invention of the internal combustion engine and the development of the automobile put an end to the animal-drawn vehicle industry, they instead opened the door to a totally new industry. New jobs emerged, from the workers of the factory production lines to the employees of the gas stations. In the same way, today new industries and jobs are emerging, driven by the revolution in information technology. The video game industry is already greater than the film industry. Exciting fields, such as nanotechnology, robotics and new materials technology.
The capacity to carry out our work will increasingly be supported by “intelligent” software. These complex programs will make decisions for us, applying artificial intelligence to know our preferences. This software will take care of the most tedious daily tasks, such as selecting the email, filtering calls or updating our calendar automatically.
Artificial intelligence will also drive the development of expert systems, which will gather all the knowledge of specialists in a specific field, and will be updated automatically with the most innovative information. Doctors, astronomers, journalists …, all will be able to use these expert systems to solve more complex problems and problems. Voice recognition and digital talking heads on screen will bring a virtual personality to intelligent software and experts, personalizing and making communication with our computers more pleasant.
As the robots become more agile and intelligent, many dangerous jobs will be carried out by remote control. Today, robots are already used to deactivate pumps and perform tasks inside nuclear reactors, where intense radiation is very dangerous for people. In the next decades we can see robots that can go into a fire to save lives, and the introduction of “robonauts”, robots capable of complex experiments and work in the hostile environment of space.
This combination of robotics and communication can be used in many ways. Remote surgery is now a reality: doctors perform operations with robots that can be thousands of kilometers away. In the future, many other tasks will be carried out in this way: instead of having to work in very risky conditions, skilled operators will be able to control machines for mining, construction and even to explore other planets from comfortable offices.
The technological revolution will continue until we can not replace human functions with technical advances. However, this trend towards new technologies means that employees must receive ongoing training to keep up to date and be able to continue being useful in their work.