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Robots could replace migrant workers as Brexit shortages bite

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Could your next colleague be a bot?

BREXIT COULD lead to a rise of the machines as more and more industries turn to automation as a cheaper way of plugging the holes left by lack of EU migrant labour in the coming years, according to industry analysts.

Mark Gray, UK sales manager for Danish bot-maker Universal Robots, told trade magazine The Manufacturer: "In the past month I've sold six cobots to companies that are struggling to find staff because eastern Europeans either aren't coming over in sufficient numbers or are returning home."

But it's not just production lines. We could be seeing more robot waiters and bartenders in the coming months following hot on the heels of Mofongo's robot-made cocktails, a regular sight to us techies who usually see the robo-shaker several times a year at trade shows.

So-called cobots (collaborative robots) are designed with limiters to make them Asimov-minty-fresh to work safely alongside humans. That's the key thing - there's no "them" and "us" here - you'll be working alongside and interacting with cobots.

Mark Bridger, VP of OpenText UK, added: "From a productivity perspective, we spend a third of our time in the workplace collecting and processing data. AI and robotics could all but eliminate this work, freeing us up from the time-consuming administration and allowing us to focus on other more creative or rewarding aspects of our jobs.

"We should stop viewing AI as an existential threat to employment. AI technology cannot replace people but it can work alongside humans to boost business productivity and make employees' lives easier."

According to the International Federation of Robotics, the UK has been a slow adopter of cobots so far with about 71 robots per 10,000 workers. France sits at 132 and hyper-efficient Germany uses 309.

The term "Industrie 4.0", referring to a fourth industrial revolution through smart automation is on the lips of mainland Europe and now it looks to be on its way here.

By Chris Merriman

Original article: https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3034337/robots-could-replace-migrant-workers-as-brexit-shortages-bite

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Guest Saturday, 17 November 2018

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