The robotics industry is becoming more and more impressive thanks to innovation on a global scale. Combining impressive feats of mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as AI systems to enable the machines to learn as they work, robotics has gone from a sci-fi dream to a cornerstone of the manufacturing industry.
One country is at the centre of this robot revolution: Denmark. The robotics industry in the country employs around eight thousand people, and generated 2.4 billion euros in turnover. Around 60% of that figure is in exports, proving that their industry is a global force.
In the 1980’s, Denmark was one of the first countries to bring in automation at scale in the manufacturing industry. The country continued to invest heavily in robotics, which helped increase efficiency and productivity, boosting their economy. Denmark is now the fourth most productive country in the world, thanks to new technology. Robots are at the core of this productivity.
Denmark’s robust education system provided a strong pipeline of continuous talent over the years, and there are several famous names in the world of technology native to the country: Bjarne Stroustrup, who invented the C++ programming language, and Per Brinch Hansen, known for concurrent programming theory.
The city of Odense is a hub for the industry, with over 120 companies dedicated to robotics. This number has grown by 50% in the last four years, so it’s clear the industry isn’t slowing down. It’s predicted the industry will grow by around 20-25% by 2020, with more heavy investment worldwide, and an ever-growing talent pool of skilled engineers joining the workforce.
Almost half (45%) of all work can be automated to some degree. For years, industry leaders, experts, futurists, and workers alike have all expressed deep (and not unfounded) concerns that robots will be brought in to replace vast swarths of human workers.
Those at the forefront of robotics have stressed that ‘cobots’ are the true future of work, robots designed to work with us, help us, and make our lives easier. It’s predicted that around a third of the manufacturing market will be taken up by these cobots by 2025.
Whether this will prove to be true is a matter of some debate, due to giants like Amazon opting to incorporate as much invasive technology into their human processes to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness regardless of human comfort and dignity. Eventually, if they can replace all human workers with robots, they will. Robots don’t get hungry, don’t get tired, don’t have to go to the bathroom, and can’t form unions.
While more benign robots may one day clean our houses or ferry us from place to place, it’s almost certain that some will replace thousands if not millions of workers around the world.
While some predict that AI will end up creating more jobs than it takes over, that won’t mean anything to the people whose livelihoods are taken away.