The robot revolution

In our lifetimes we have seen dramatic changes in our way of life and our way of working, largely due to the technology explosion.

Rapid advances in technology look like continuing. Automation and the use of robots is transforming many workplaces and these changes will continue to impact on the type of work people do and how much work is vailable for humans.

TV1’s Sunday has been doing a series on the changing nature of work and last night asked “What will  New Zealand’s coming robot revolution mean for your working life?

This showed examples of the sort of change that’s happening now, like fully automated milking sheds, self drive cars, trucks and trains, and automated warehouses.

Electronics has been a part of most of my working life.

My first career job after I left school was with the Post Office, as a Telephone Technician Trainee. Through that I studied Electronic Theory at Polytech. At one internal course that covered the exchange equipment used at the time, which was electro-mechanical, we were told about the future – electronic switching. I’ve been a part of the transformation to electronically driven communications.

However the Post Office was overstaffed and my actual work was mind numbingly boring. So I quit the Public Service (and because I only gave one month’s notice instead of three I was banned from working for them again).

I changed to a much more interesting and challenging job with Burroughs. I started again on electro-mechanical equipmet, adding machines, cash registers and accounting machines that were programmed with riveted pins of different lengths. I then trained on computer terminals and installed the first branch terminals used by the National Bank in Auckland. These connected to Databank by modem. This was in the mid seventies.

I changed jobs a number of times after that, usually involved in emerging technology. In the mid eighties I managed and programmed the first CNC turret punch (sheet metal) installed in southern New Zealand.

So I’ve been very involved in changing technology, often near the bleeding edge. I worked in IT before it was called IT. I introduced many people to computers and trained many people. That was last century. My work covered a wide range of emerging technologies.

in 2001 I got a new job that was more specialised – it had become too difficult to be a generalist. I’m still in that job, still in technology but a very narrowe field.

I’m aware of aspects of the technology revolution that seems to be building pace, still, but have really lost touch with the degree of change the world is undergoing.

What happens with robots and the workplace in the future won’t affect me much, as I probably only have a decade of employment left at the most.

But my children and especially my grandchildren will work in a world I couldn’t have dreamt of as a child.

The Sunday programme on the robotics revolution didn’t surprise me in that I was aware of the capabilities of electronic machines, but it was a bit of a shock to realise how much robots are already taking over many workplaces, and how that could dramatically change work opportunities in the future.

Sunday: Somewhere to work (15:02)

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  1. Long term workarounds for further automation of work will need to be considered, as much as manufacturing has been replaced by services, eventually those services will be squeezed through automation too, the French may have been ahead of their time trialing the 35 hour work week, but reducing hours to maintain high levels of employment is a viable idea, the only kink is wages/salary on less hours when the employees may be seen as less critical to the core business.

  2. Mike C

     /  17th August 2015

    I really hope I live long enough to own my own personal “house-maid” robot … just llie the one the Jetsons owned 🙂

    It would be so great to have one to look after me in my old age, instead of having to go into a Home for the Bewildered. LOL.


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