The World’s First Humanless Work: A Model for the Future?

A boy studies “Pepper,” Finland’s first robot working in the public healthcare sector, greeting and directing patients and families at the Health and Well-being Centre, Kalasatama in Helsinki. The Disruption Lab met “Pepper” and learned firsthand about the Centre’s participation in Kalasatama, an award-winning platform for rapid experimentation of new smart services and innovation during our Global Executive Innovation Program July 2018. 

By Joe Calloway, Principal, The Disruption Lab

There’s an old joke about the factory of the future. It will have two employees, a human and a dog. The human will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to make sure that the human doesn’t touch any of the machinery.

We’re getting very close.

In this article for CNBC, Tim Hornyak gives us a look at the world’s first warehouse with no human workers. It raises questions that have relevance for everyone’s work future.

Elon Musk once said, “Robots will be able to do everything better than us.” If Musk is correct, what are the implications of that reality? Is it good news or bad news?

One widely cited study predicts that nearly half of all jobs are in danger of being automated in the next 20 years. The flip side of the automation coin is that it will create jobs, i.e. programming the robots. But what about workers that aren’t in a position to train for these new jobs in IT, automation, and advanced manufacturing? Will they be forced into lower paying, basic service jobs? (Watch the video in the article for more.)

Research by Harvard University estimates 5 million Americans now make a living, or at least work part-time, as professional drivers. But things may look quite different not too long from now. In a report by NBC News, David Cole, director-emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, says that while “It isn’t going to happen overnight,” robotic vehicles will soon begin to displace professional drivers in numbers that will be “certainly in the millions.”

Will our new automated world be one of dire economic threat for workers or one of unlimited opportunity? Read this article and let us know what you think.

Joe Calloway is a nationally acclaimed keynote speaker, consultant and author of Be the Best at What Matters Most and six other ground-breaking business books including Becoming A Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity And Defy Comparison, which received rave reviews from The New York TimesRetailing TodayPublishers Weekly and many others. He consults and advises leadership teams of global organizations with ideas and strategies on leadership, innovation and customer experience. You can connect with or ask Joe a question through The Disruption Lab community at


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