There has always been this underlying fear that robots or technology will one day take over the world. The latest conversation around this topic is regarding drones and how they are potentially replacing or automating jobs worldwide. This article is not aimed at intimidating or overstating the facts, but rather to shed some light into the conversation revolving drones and the impact it would have on people in a larger business sense.
For many years now drones have been used in the military or in the toy market, however as they grow in popularity and innovation they are quickly moving from novelty items to valuable business tools and this anxiety around technology taking over is swiftly nearing it’s turning point - worldwide.
It is true that drones affect multiple industries from agriculture, communications, filmmaking, insurance, media and entertainment, mining, security and surveillance, transportation and many others – each with their own needs and variety of drone functionalities to put to use. Drones are becoming increasingly significant in our daily lives. However, it is not the growing popularity and innovative technology in question, but rather the impact on human labour and jobs.
Some might argue that we do not know the impact of this technological leap, looking at smartphones and their current global impact we would never have guessed this success in the infancy of the development – are drones not heading in the same global direction? Drones are impacting business operations and companies locally and abroad – effectively solving business challenges with more success and less labour.
According to a case study performed by PwC in May 2016, the commercial use of drones is valued at $127 Billion in replacing human labour with drone driven solutions.
Don’t freak out! Drones will replace some jobs, but on a larger scale realistically would cause job displacement for the workforce. One aspect to consider is that drones need operators. Uses for drones will also continue to grow and expand along with the drones themselves, ever improving and evolving. Therefor new (or different types of) jobs will be created.
“One drone delivering parcels probably provides as much work for the operator as a courier van does for a driver.” – Adrian Schofield (ICT analyst).
Implications for us locally:
In 2015 SA was one of the first countries in the world to regulate commercial drone use. Drones carry many benefits for Africa itself, one being agriculture (such as pesticide distribution or data gathering). In the Kruger National Park drones are used for poaching surveillance. Other functions such as transportation have also been used locally – at great success.
You see the answer regarding “is it taking my job” is about displacement rather than replacement all together. In the end drones will create more jobs than what they replace – enabling us to do more than what we can imagine or are currently capable of.