To many people, artificial intelligence conjures up two different scenarios – Robocop and Terminator or Tony Stark’s Jarvis – depending on your favourite genre. Many people fear these robots taking over the jobs of humans or even causing harm to them and have been rejecting the adoption of robots in their lives.
But artificial intelligence is ingrained in our daily lives and we interact with it when using our phones daily. Whether it’s the algorithms in our social media feeds or the real-time translation on Google Translate, artificial intelligence transforms the way we live and the way businesses are operating.
Artificial intelligence is not only important to progress and technological advancement, it is also growing in importance as we move towards an ageing population. Problems in the foreseeable future include a smaller working population, higher wages and a greater need for care. To resolve these problems, we can rely on artificial intelligence and robots.
In Japan, for example, it is estimated there will be a shortfall of 400,000 nurses by 2025. Robo-nurses are being developed to assist with care of the elderly and Robear, developed by Riken and Sumitomo, helps lift patients from their bed into a wheelchair or to help those who need assistance standing up.
Covid-19 has also increased the experimentation of robots with logistical tasks such as cleaning or bringing food and medicine to patients. The pandemic will be something that we learn to live with for the next few years, and we will eventually need to step out of our homes and for movement to resume. In the new normal of Covid-19, the usage of robots will increase as we are faced with a smaller workforce and a need for less contact.
Singapore’s Cleaning Industry
Since the start of the pandemic, the cleaning industry has been plagued with challenges after challenges. The cleaners have been brave and supported the reopening of the country by taking on an invaluable role of ensuring the hygiene and cleanliness of public areas, serving as a frontliner to keep all visitors safe and healthy.
In Singapore, a new progressive wage model will be introduced starting 2023 to 2028 to recognise the importance and higher-value of cleaning work. Cleaners who stay with a company from 2022 to 2028 may see a 45% increase in wages by the end of the new model.
Cleaning companies need to be aware and prepared for the progressive wage model in order to maintain the fiscal sustainability of their companies. As such, this is the most important time for companies to start upskilling their workforce, to ensure that they can carry out higher-value tasks and increase in productivity. Companies can also adapt to this change by bringing technological transformations such as autonomous cleaning robots to their daily operations.