Will AI Replace Electricians
With AI seemingly threatening almost every job you can think of, electricians would be forgiven for wondering if their own job is at risk from AI.
The good news is that like many other tradespeople, there are a number of powerful reasons why the job of electrician is safe from AI, at least for the foreseeable future. AI in the short term is most going to affect knowledge workers and white collar jobs. Blue collar jobs - in general terms - are safe.
The simplistic reason is that AI doesn't have hands - it sits within a computer, on a phone, in a cloud server, cut off physically from the outside world. But when we talk about AI, we have to consider the effect of AI on robots - the two are going to combine.
Humanoid robots powered by AI are likely to hit the mainstream around 2030-2035, and they will be devastating to many jobs previously thought of as safe. After an initial wave of AI displacement for knowledge workers, a second wave of layoffs will hit many other ‘physical’ jobs, due to highly advanced robots - basically.
As with most new technologies, the initial barrier to widespread adoption and availability will be cost. Humanoid robots will be extremely expensive for the first few years, and consequently it will be large businesses and the very rich who have them at first.
But even with advanced humanoid robots on the market, the work of an electrician is still well protected.
Let’s dive in…
The electrician’s job is complicated
Electricians are called upon to deal with an endless variety of tasks, from a flipped circuit breaker, to installing whole house (or business, or machine…) wiring.
Every job is different, access to work areas is often challenging, and the detective work and physical effort needed to locate, repair and install new electrics, is highly diverse.
Can you imagine a robot clambering into a crawl space, climbing a ladder to an attic, or rearranging the homeowner’s china before carefully moving the furniture? The versatility required for this (from a robotics and AI technology standpoint) is extreme.
And that’s before the same robot needs to operate a wide variety of tools, pull wiring through walls, open blister packaging, chase wiring, go up on the roof, and a thousand other tricky-for-robots tasks that make up what electricians do without thinking every day.
The job of an electrician requires a unique blend of technical expertise, practical experience, and the ability to think on your feet. AI, while powerful, will not be able to readily deal with the nuances and complexities involved in vastly diverse electrical jobs.
The Trust Factor
Being an electrician often involves working in businesses or people's homes, where trust and rapport are crucial. Customers need to feel comfortable allowing an electrician into their space. A human electrician can read social cues, engage in small talk, and provide reassurance. AI, despite its impressive abilities, simply cannot replicate the warmth and understanding that a human brings to the task. People like to talk to people.
A Hands-On Job
One of the most important aspects of being an electrician is the ability to use one's hands to manipulate tools and devices. AI and robots in its current and foreseeable state, do not have the dexterity or tactile sensitivity to perform these tasks with the finesse and skill of a human electrician. While some robots have been designed with manual dexterity, they are far from achieving the flexibility that a human electrician possesses.
Tools and Techniques
The world of electrical tools and techniques is constantly evolving, with new innovations and products introduced daily. Keeping up with these advancements requires a electrician to continuously learn and adapt. AI might be able to learn new information over time, but it still struggles to apply that knowledge in a practical and hands-on manner.
In the world of an electrician, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each situation calls for a unique approach, and a human electrician has the ability to assess a problem, consider multiple factors, and devise a working plan. AI, on the other hand, might be able to churn out solutions based on pre-programmed scenarios, but it lacks the intuition and creativity required to think outside the box.
The importance of experience
An electrician’s experience is a valuable asset that AI cannot replicate. Electricians have years of hands-on experience, and have seen everything. From dealing with old wiring that has become lunch for rodents, to figuring out the latest state-of-the-art devices, an electrician’s ability to adapt and improvise is very high.
AI, on the other hand, needs to be programmed and trained on specific situations, and it lacks the versatility to tackle unexpected challenges.
The job of a electrician is extremely safe from the looming challenge to society of AI and robots. The sheer complexity and variety of electrical tasks, the dexterity and hands-on skills required, the importance of human connection, the need to work in tight spaces and an endless variety of locations, means even highly advanced humanoid robots will struggle to replace human electricians. And even if they could in say 30 years, the cost of such (highly advanced) robots will be astronomical.
So if you are an electrician, rest easy knowing that your profession is secure for many years to come. You’ll be able to use AI yourself before long to help with administration and can use it now for research.
For the rest of us, we can be grateful that when our lights don’t turn on, we'll still be able to count on the expertise of a reliable and trustworthy electrician.
Conclusion: Extremely Safe | Time Period: 30-40 years