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With Amazon Drones Announced, Are We Headed for a Robot Apocalypse?

With Amazon Drones Announced, Are We Headed for a Robot Apocalypse?In a fascinating move, Amazon announced on 60 Minutes over the weekend a plan to put ‘delivery drones’ into place.

The drones would supposedly be able to deliver objects weighing 5-pound or less within a 10 mile radius in under 30 minutes, and while Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, says that the technology is still several years out, experts are already wondering if we’re headed for “a new era” or “a sky full of drones.”

Combined with increasing automation like we’re seeing in the manufacturing industry, those interested in technology have a real question to ask: are we headed for a robot apocalypse?

Although it could certainly seem like we’re only minutes away from a robot takeover–especially with announcements like the one from Amazon over the weekend becoming more frequent–the truth is, we’re still a long ways from anything remotely like a ‘robot apocalypse.’

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Although automation is improving rapidly, there’s still a long ways to go before this technology reaches fruition. Bezos said it himself: this technology is at least four to five years out (if not more). There are a number of things inhibiting drone technology from being implemented on a broad scale. Even outside the drone world–and into manufacturing–full automation is still a long ways from happening. There are some jobs we don’t think will ever go away, and even with robots like Baxter making automation more accessible, a lot needs to happen before we see a major influx of robotics in industries like manufacturing.
  • Automation doesn’t eliminate the need for humans–it changes their role. Even if we were to wake up tomorrow and find every job on the manufacturing floor replaced by a robot, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every automated job would be gone for good. Automation doesn’t always take jobs from people–it often leaves companies in a position to hire more people, and current workers in more fulfilling, specialized positions. So despite the thought that robots are taking our jobs, they’re usually not–instead, they’re just changing our jobs.
  • Amazon’s announcement may be big, but it’s hardly the first of its kind. Coming back to the drone conversation for a moment, although many people think that Amazon’s drones would be the first of their kind, they’re not. Amazon is simply joining the “drone-delivery revolution,” as there are already drones all around the country and world in testing for functions similar to Amazon’s. This may be a bigger-scale usage of drones than we’ve ever seen, but this announcement doesn’t exactly mean that we’re on the fast track to a complete drone takeover.

While new technology like Amazon’s drones of the future may seem like a reason to throw in the towel and call it quits if you’re interested in technology or manufacturing, that’s hardly the case. All this means is that those seeking careers in manufacturing will need to be able to continue to evolve to fit the changing space. Uncomfortable? Possible. But impossible? Hardly.

If anything, we love new technology like this. Looking towards the future–as big announcements like these make us do–gets us excited for the amazing possibilities opened up by new technology, even if that means needing to change our skills over time.

So don’t worry–you won’t find us scrambling to fight back against a robot apocalypse any time soon. Although, if the robot apocalypse were to happen tomorrow, we sure hope that Big Dog would be on our side.

photo credit: unten44 via photopin cc

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