This Week In Tech – Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs

This week in tech, we take a look at an app SA desperately needs. Also, you may already be sitting next to a robot at work. They’re among us.
Jason
Snyman
Published: Wednesday, March 7th 2018
General
This week in tech news, Nedbank gets a little too Skynet for comfort, as it reveals its plans for slowly getting rid of us pesky, inept humans who take too many smoke breaks. Isaac Asimov once wrote that there are three laws in robotics.
  1. Robots may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law;
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws;
And then, we have the Zeroth Law, which further dictates that a robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. So, does stealing a human being’s job fall under any of those indiscretions? We also have a look at the app SA doesn’t have, but desperately needs, and how smartphone trends are changing. Perhaps for the worse.

Nedbank To Replace Employees With Robotic Tech

Now, we haven’t quite reached the point of creating fully operational, free-thinking robots that will one day turn around, enslave us, and destroy the entire world as we know it. But, we’re trying our absolute best. Nedbank recently announced that it is considering replacing up to 3000 employees with software robots. The bank unveiled its first humanoid robot last week. Meet Pepper, your replacement. It will be doing this through natural attrition, offset through the bank’s projected growth instead of retrenchments.
“When we look at the expected implementations and the natural attrition we are going to suffer, we think that there is more than adequate room for us not to have any mass retrenchments on account of robotics,” said Nedbank chief information officer, Fred Swanepoel. “With about 32 000 staff, our natural attrition rate is about 3 000 per year. When we look at a three-year period, we don’t think that robotics will take up more than one year of that natural attrition.”
Nedbank already has 59 software robots installed. These include a chat bot in Nedbank Wealth and a robo-advisor in the asset management division. The plan is to have 200 in place by the end of 2018, spending about R2 billion on tech investments. Are you worried about being replaced by a robot? We’ve got handy tips to ensure your survival.
  • Stop taking lunch breaks;
  • Don’t ever get sick;
  • Work 24 hour days;
  • Don’t ever take a holiday;
  • Learn how to work faster;
  • Learn how to work more efficiently;
  • Stop going to the bathroom.
Save up to 30% on car insurance 

Citizen - The App All South Africans Need

Citizen, formerly Vigilante, is an app currently in the beta stage of operations in the United States. Not too long ago, Vigilante was banned from the App Store because Apple was under the impression that the app encouraged everyday people to become, well, Batman, we suppose. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The app, instead, encourages constant vigilance. Being aware, all the time, of all the dangers around you. The app is back under a new guise – Citizen – and is designed to notify you when a crime or some other major incident has been reported to police near you. It even allows for live streaming, giving users a complete view of the neighbourhood around them. It is important to mention that the app does not embolden unskilled or untrained users to rush headlong into any act of crime currently underway down the road. The mission, instead, is to create a safer environment, built upon awareness. The app is only operational in the US, for now. But, if ever South Africa desperately needed an app, it would be something similar to Citizen. With the astonishingly high rate of crime here, however, it’s possible that if users didn’t turn all our phones into fiery hellscapes all day long, the app itself would simply implode from all the sad, sad data.

Smartphones - All Glass All The Time

Aluminium-backed phones, meaning the phones you can accidentally drop without immediately going into cardiac arrest, are officially done for. Glass-backed phones are in vogue, and are such precious, vulnerable little snowflakes. Just like all the iPhone X users. Of all the flagship phones already announced this year, the majority of them feature back-to-front glass as the material of choice. These include, and these are just the most popular ones, the Nokia 8 Sirocco, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 devices and Sony’s Xperia XZ2. All the big guns are going for the all-glass all-the-time non-stop-glass glass-to-the-max approach. From HTC to OnePlus, everybody is getting on board, and we may be stuck with this trend for some time. Sure, the glass is nice to look at, but as the joke goes, these days when people fall and hear something shatter, they hope and pray it’s just their hip. And sure, with aluminium backing, you lose the wireless charging function. This seems to be a key feature in new flagship phones. And granted, glass allows for better connectivity. But, glass is fragile. Does this even need stating? It may feel heavy, but that doesn’t make it sturdy. With aluminium, we still stood a chance of making it through a couple of years without having to repair or replace a new handset. When I was younger, I once threw a Siemens ME45 against a brick wall. The phone bounced off the wall, flew right back into my face and hit me in the mouth, splitting my lip right open. That was a tough phone. That phone hit back. Today, we cradle our phones like a newborn baby, and we agonise over bezels and notches. But hey, at least the new Android Oreo beats the hell out of that monochrome Symbian nightmare.