The Zimbabwean Perspective

A look at our lives and the tech we use in them

Business Lifestyle The Future Of Work

These construction robots that can build houses should put a chill down the spine of construction workers.

A sign of things to come?

Artificial Intelligence and robotics have been a hot topic in first world nations for the past few years now, mainly because citizens of those countries are becoming more aware that AI computers or menial task robots might take their jobs someday. But this has mainly been in the area of repetitive office jobs, so for example call center employees or certain clerks may have their staff numbers shaved down because you only need maybe two people and an AI system to do a job ten people used to do. When it came to hard labor however, people were still mostly relaxed. Sure some robots and AI systems were being introduced but seemingly none that were going to push workers in construction out of the way. Until now.
What you see in the video above is the Hadrian X, a brick laying robot that can lay 200 bricks in an hour, which in comparison to the average human’s 300 per day, is already a bit of a far of threat for some human construction worker. The robot is manufactured by Fast Brick Robotics, an Australian company that says all this robot needs is a 3D model and technical staff to set it up. It’s currently not on the market yet but as you may have seen, it’s not the only robot in this video, as another robot the Sam 100 by Construction Robotics has actually been out on the market for a while now. This one builds non-foundational bricks and works in conjunction with 3-4 human workers for larger building projects, which again is quite the shaving off of the usual construction team size again. Simply put, it seems a large part of the future of construction might be robotic, and that’s obviously something everyone needs to take note of, especially people in the construction industry. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying panic and lose your mind just yet. Chances are anyone over 35 in the industry can probably retire at the very least around 50, because I don’t see such robots completely sweeping the industry especially in Africa for at least ten years. But after ten to 15 years? Well, that’s the point in time that people in Zim might have to pay attention to. Because either even here some version of AI and robot worker integration could be happening, or even worse we’re so behind we don’t have any productive large scale industry to offer the global market because our productivity rate and capacity can’t match everyone else using these systems. It’s a scary thought, and once you get into it you can see why people in the US ,Europe and even China are so fixated on how AI will affect them, because it’s seemingly inevitable that it will, and eventually affect the rest of us too. And with computers and robots occupying even the most menial of jobs, one has to wonder what else they can do.
Well, here’s an idea on that: those technical workers inserting the bricks or setting up the robots. Higher skilled workers or those with technical knowledge will likely always be vital, as even robots need to get designed, built fixed and maintained. Now of course that’s not really an answer. After all not everyone is a tech worker. But everyone can do their best to find a skill for this upcoming revolution, and a job they can occupy once it happens. Now that doesn’t make things easy, and no one wants to learn a new trade when they love their old one. But perhaps that’s the only way we can move forward, as even in the past moments like this have happened before. Just think of the industrial revolution. But now this is the first change where the masses can have almost all the knowledge, they need to tackle such a shift, and that’s nothing to take for granted. Let’s hope we can all use that knowledge wisely, and continue to outgrow and evolve beyond whatever large companies think they can switch us with machines for.

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