Will AI Replace Electricians?
Artificial Intelligence is constantly innovating and this, in turn, will start to bring a different kind of problem for businesses to overcome. Do you replace your workforce with AI robots? Could the adoption of artificial intelligence affect electricians?
In summary, being an electrician means having the necessary ‘know-how’ of the ins and out of various electrical applications, and also a strong attention to detail, problem-solving and safety awareness. What areas of an electrician’s job have the potential to be replaced by AI? Let’s have a look:
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence (Ai) is the reproduction of human intelligence processes by machines. The types of process include learning, reasoning and self-correction. They can be used for a variety of applications. In many industries, AI technology is set to redefine job roles. Experts suggest that as much as 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations will be replaced by robotics and AI.
These ‘redefining changes’ are happening much faster in some industries than others. For instance, in the healthcare industry, professionals are using AI to predict diseases and using diagnostic tests to increase the speed and accuracy of treatment. Some experts have gone so far to suggest that AI will replace GP’s with chat-bot consultations. There are even recent developments of bricklaying robots in the construction industry.
Whilst traditional methods in these industries remain commonplace, businesses are attempting to remain competitive by investing in research and development, specifically in AI tools that will differentiate them from their competitors. In 2018, only 25% of businesses are currently adopting AI, however according to Adobe, this is set to increase by 31% over the next year.
How could artificial intelligence replace electricians?
Removing straightforward tasks
Due to the knowledge-based nature of the electrician role, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to give robots ad hoc tasks any time soon. However, it is very likely that AI will become increasingly common within the job role. Tasks needing less specialised skills like finding the right tool, cleaning equipment and driving to site locations could become non-existent elements of an electrician’s job.
Even other ‘programmable’ tasks like disassembling defective electrical equipment, digging trenches for installation and the repetitive construction of controllers and panels could render some electricians obsolete.
This could have a knock-on effect on entry-level positions such as apprentices and assistants, who often start with these ‘educational’ tasks to learn on the job. This is likely to be counterintuitive to the government’s plan to encourage apprenticeships nationally.
As mentioned previously, electricians are required to have strong problem-solving skills to identify a problem, locate it and repair it. It is an important part of the job role as without it you are unlikely to become a certified and competent electrician. However is it possible AI could have greater knowledge and expertise, even without decades of experience?
One critical quality of AI is its capability to learn. This is the concept that AI robots can develop knowledge from continuous experience and human programming. Therefore when faced with a problem, it is feasible to believe that AI would be able to combat the problem in a faster and more efficient manner provided that they could download the relevant information, or have acquired experience of this problem previously.
Whilst this concept is exciting, new situations can overwhelm machine learning systems so unique electrical and systems with errors or problems could be challenging for AI to resolve. This is where human qualities would always have the upper hand. However for more common, smaller systems, AI could reach a known solution.
What human qualities are irreplaceable?
According to AI experts, jobs requiring dexterity, hand-eye coordination and flexibility are least likely to be replaced for the time being. AI is presently unable to replicate this human behaviour and therefore cannot carry out tasks requiring these skills.
As an electrician, you face varying challenges in dynamic environments which can be troublesome for even the most advanced AI systems. Humans have the innate ability to adapt to their environments and use their ‘gut instinct’ to innovate and create ‘out of the box’ solutions to complex issues. AI learning is incapable of doing this as it uses existing information to generalise a ‘one size fits all’ solution to what could be a more complex electrical system.
There is more to an electrician than repairing and maintaining systems. You are required to work as part of a team, where communication is paramount. For example, coaching and mentoring a trainee requires irreplaceable skills such as encouragement and motivation that isn’t understood by AI robots.
Customer service can be a large aspect, particularly if you’re in a consumer-facing role on a daily basis. Having people at the forefront of a business builds trust, increases loyalty and increases customer satisfaction. These skills are simply irreplaceable by AI Robots at present.
Other Soft Skills:
Patience and perseverance are required throughout an electrician’s daily routine to solve electrical problems. Many issues require more than a simple quick fix as using certain equipment requires an accurate and patient application. Thorough and precise use of such equipment may not always be fully replicated by AI, with humans being capable of using their judgement to make decisions.
So will AI replace electricians?
Ultimately it is unlikely that AI will replace electricians in the foreseeable future. Being an electrician is more than just fixing a broken system, as it involves many soft skill aspects including customer service, patience, and cooperation.
Although replacement is unlikely, it is probable that AI will become an integrated part of the modern electrician’s role, whether this is assisting with simple tasks to leave extra time for the more skilled aspects of the role or supporting electricians in generating existing solutions for common problems at a faster rate. AI will make the job more streamlined and efficient.