According to a new survey by Wanted Analytics, demand for “robotics skills” increased 13 percent from December 2012 to December 2013. But the majority of new jobs aren’t going to be a robot factories or labs. Wanted Analytics found the demand was rising in applied robotics, and it was rising in the same places where employment for non-robots human beings was rising too: health care.
The work left in the future is pretty much based on maintaining each other—as for building people from scratch, enough of us do that in our free time that there isn’t demand for it yet. The list of the fastest growing occupations compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is mostly jobs for taking care of America’s aging (and moneyed) population—that and, for some reason, brick masons.
So even if it seems more intuitive that robots should be taking over brick masonry, it also shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that robotics would also be in demand for health care. The first job of the robots is maintaining people, poetically enough. Still, the fact that Wanted found that 65 percent of robotics jobs were going toward health care is pretty surprising.
The robotics specialists are up to interesting things though. Physicians offices are looking for people to “design, develop, and analyze devices for the expansion of the image guided robotics program for minimally invasive procedures and surgery,” and assist in the use of those programs.
Other growing fields of robots feel more like the usual suspects: manufacturing, robotics systems, like Kiva Systems, which is a robotics system for warehouses that unsurprisingly was acquired by Amazon.
Fact is, if you’re going to have a job, you’re going to be working with automated systems, even if you’re in the most humane and intimate of practices. Which isn’t to say that it will be an easy transition into the era that MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee call “The Second Machine Age,” in their new book.
“We all have to keep reinventing the way we work together with computers. And that’s the part that’s lagging right now,” Brynjolfsson told CNN. “The technology is racing ahead, but our skills, our organizations, our economic policies, are lagging behind.”
There might be room for “robotics implementation specialist” on the BLS list of fastest growing occupations, then. That is, if some sort of protocol droid that specializes in human-cyborg relations doesn’t take the job first.