Increased automation in the workforce has caused many to fear their jobs will soon be taken over by robots – and, experts now warn even the military will be affected by the shift.
The use of robots could help the US military to cut costs and would allow them to remove soldiers from potentially dangerous environments, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Experts say the move has already begun in many ways, with newer warships like the USS Zumwalt designed to be manned by half the crew of previous destroyers, and Navy researchers experimenting with ‘ghost fleets’ of underwater drones.
As driverless cars hold potential to take over taxi and truck driver jobs, a similar scenario could play out in the military to support troops.
Robots could take on a number of tasks, from managing and delivering supplies or analyzing thousands of legal documents, to quickly diagnosing diseases and assisting in the operating room, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
‘Just as in the civilian economy, automation will likely have a big impact on military organizations in logistics and manufacturing,’ Michael Horowitz, a University of Pennsylvania professor and an expert on weaponized robots told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
‘The US military is very likely to pursue forms of automation that reduce ‘back-office’ costs over time, as well as remove soldiers from non-combat deployments where they might face risk from adversaries on fluid battlefields, such as in transportation.’
Robots could also be used to detect and dismantle mines.
Horowitz also points to current technologies that already aim to reduce the number of human operators, such as the guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt.
The ship carries 147 sailors, half that of similar warships, and deploys up to three MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopters, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
These unmanned drone helicopters can pinpoint targets, map terrain, and detect bad weather.
Recent reports have shown that the use of robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace is expected to grow rapidly in coming years.
A report from the White House published in December warned that machines could soon replace millions of human workers.
Less-skilled workers are likely to be hit the hardest, which could cause an even greater divide of wealth inequality.
But, the report also suggests AI could improve the country’s productivity growth, which would result in higher wages and fewer work hours.
‘These transformations will open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they have the potential to disrupt the current livelihoods of millions of Americans,’ the report states.
‘Whether AI leads to unemployment and increases in inequality over the long-run depends not only on the technology itself but also on the institutions and policies that are in place.’
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