Are Robots Competing for My Job?

A few weeks ago, we set out on an afternoon tour with a friend in Luxembourg. Public transport in the city is very easy to use, even though they were the first in the world to make it completely free of charge in the whole country, you can easily transfer from one type of public transport to another. From the business district you can take the tram to the cable car and from there a panoramic elevator straight to the old town.

Here we noticed a smaller-than-average bus, which was just waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street and then elegantly turned in front of us.

To our surprise, there was neither a driver nor an operator on board. I rushed to the next street, not even trying to conceal my excitement, so that I could catch it as it turned at the intersection.

My reaction was mainly caused by the fact that although I had seen videos of self-driving electric buses, there were always operators for safety reasons. And most of all, I didn’t expect such a vehicle to turn up right next to me. I did some research and I found that the service is part of a long-term plan in the city of Luxembourg to help urban residents move around in an environment friendly way.

Just three weeks ago we spent our first day on the world’s largest passenger ship, the Symphony of the Seas. Although there were probably fewer people due to the coronavirus, a good 6,000 guests and a crew of 2,200 were still around on this 18-story floating city.

That’s partly why it was great to discover the Bionic Bar on the fifth floor, where two robotic hands mixed drinks for the guests.

It wasn’t nearly as entertaining as having a flesh-and-blood bar tender, but they could easily mix two or three drinks per minute, which was a great help in the constant heat.

You could place orders on iPads, where the ingredients of the drinks were listed, and the alcohol content was clearly indicated. After that you could keep track of your order on the displays next to the robots, and you could see the most popular drink of the day for 30-40 year olds (which is just one step away from making offers to guests by using artificial intelligence).

From the examples above, it is quite clear that robots are already here and will bring about enormous changes in our lives in the coming years. Hundreds of currently popular jobs will disappear or will take a back seat within a few years. It will be extremely important to understand what abilities robots cannot replace and how to acquire them even as adults.

Now connect the spread of robots with this: late last year, details of the current PISA survey were published, showing, for example, that in my home country, Hungary,

about 20% of participants in the current education system have reading difficulties that make it impossible for them to fully understand more complex texts. According to educational experts, the group of these students has a strong overlap with the large group of people who, with the spread of robots, will be pushed to the periphery of the labor market.

That is why we have a huge responsibility to bring about major changes in education systems and to make alternative forms of learning accessible to everyone around the world.

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