Will Robots Eliminate Jobs Completely in Malaysia?

In today’s world, automation and robotic technologies are very common in our daily life. From the tips of your fingers on your smartphone, to performing surgery on a human body. 

We use technology every single day whether we realize or not. Technology ease our life as compared to decades ago. Speaking to loved ones across the globe, ordering your favourite shoes from different country in different timezone, or even with the simple task of unlocking your home door by using your thumbprint. According to Statista, as of 2020, the percentage of population in Malaysia using a smartphone is 87.61%. We used automation technologies to do all sorts of tasks. What else are robots used for? 

We see robots were used in restaurants and cafes as waiters taking orders and serving your food. Today, even a vending machines can offer cooked food like ramen, set lunch and cotton candy! It’s especially useful during pandemic when people is looking for less human contact and social distancing in the process of food preparations. Other than that, robots assembling our day to day home appliances, such as phones, laptops, LED TV and automotive vehicles. Robots are also creating breakthrough in modern medicine technology. There are robots being deployed in hospital to perform micro-surgeries by artificial intelligence (AI). So how far is too far?

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Fairfax, Virginia, USA – January 29, 2019: Close-up view of a newly operational delivery robot enroute to customers on George Mason University’s main campus. The autonomous robots are operated by Starship Technologies and use artificial intelligence technologies to securely deliver food.

With all this technologies and robots in place to automate our daily tasks by machine, do we still need human labour at all in the next 20 or 30 years? As what described by Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, “AI is far more dangerous than nukes.” How real is it?

It’s undeniable that robots will disrupt the jobs market and have taken away jobs opportunities from human.

However, we do see that the automation and robotics technologies does bring in new job opportunities for the country. One of the very good example is e-commerce. During pandemic when most of the people were required to stay at home and reduce outdoor’s activities, buying things online has made shopping become the new normal. According to a recent publication from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), E-commerce marks a growing of 30% year-on-year to RM256.6 million in the first quarter of 2021. 

In this sector alone, different types of robots and AI are being used for various jobs and responsibilities. In China, the giant online shopping platform, Alibaba have started to use automatic guided vehicles (AGV) in their smart warehouses to have more efficiency and less error in goods transferring. AGVs have advanced technology with a combination of software and sensor-based guidance systems to automate the sorting and transferring operation. In Malaysia, AGV from DF Automation and Robotics are being used for restaurant, hospitals, factories to automate in-house logistic transfer.

Not only in E-commerce, robots are used for surgery far and wide globally. In Malaysia, hospitals like Sunway Medical Centre and UiTM Private Specialist Centre  acquired Da Vinci Robotic surgical systems that offer robotic surgeries and also robotic assisted procedures. The da Vinci was first introduced in 1999 and to date has more than 3,000 systems installed worldwide and millions of surgeries have been successfully done in many fields including general surgery, Gynaecology and also paediatric surgery. Just from this alone we can expect more advancements in robotic surgery in Malaysia. 

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 In a nutshell, automation and robotics have changed the life style of human being, not only limited to shopping, leisures, enjoyments and etc. It also changed our business practices, jobs market, education focus and etc. Robots have replaced job opportunities, especially those routines and repetitive works. However, it does also provide new opportunities to the market such as Artificial Intelligent, Computer Technologies, Big Data Analysis and etc.

In a century ago when the train was invented, there may have some noises concerning about the lost of job opportunities for coachman. But very soon this worries were replaced by the benefits and advancement brought by the installation of the railways. Back to today’s scenario, the robots are going to change our life. Now the real question is, how fast can we adapt to it? And how much benefit we can earn out of it?