The coming participation of robots in every aspect of our lives is a confusing prospect: it’s at once exciting and threatening.
Above all, it’s inevitable and there is not a job that is not threatened. And what do you to earn an income if you have to give up your job to a robot but don’t have enough money to retire?
This is a burning question, almost an existential question for millions of us.
Yet someone has now come up with a novel idea: why not hire a robot to do your job for you?
It’s crazy and it’s brilliant.
Writing for Forbes, founder and Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, Joseph Coughlin, suggests that in addition to investing in robotics and artificial intelligence firms to ensure retirement income, “robotics might open up an entirely new retirement investment class for producing income in older age, in the form of what I call robotics-for-hire. Retire and hire a robot to become your cyber-self working through, and paying for, your retirement.”
Take the man seriously: he features on Next Avenue’s list of 50 Most Influential People in Aging – thought leaders, innovators, writers, advocates, experts and others that are changing how we age and think about aging.
Coughlin paints three different scenarios.
“First, imagine hiring a robot to make it possible for you to work in retirement – forever,” he writes.
Coughlin foresees the emergence of companies that would rent robots out to people. “New firms might serve individuals (many who may be retirees) who would like to purchase a robot or invest in shares of a robotic workforce to provide a source of steady income. Investing in a robotic workforce might make it possible for retirees to work by ‘bot and earn income throughout their retirement years.”
As example, he mentions Nashville-based Hirebotics which is a robot rental company.
Coughlin might be coining a new phrase when he writes about the “Robo-Gig Economy”. The gig economy, also known as the sharing economy, already provides many opportunities for people to earn income in retirement, writes Coughlin, referring to Airbnb or driving for Uber or Lyft.
The robo-gig economy refers to humans renting out their own robots for short-term jobs. Coughlin foresees that robots will become affordable for most people and skillful at a wide range of tasks.
“Future retirees might apply for temporary jobs for their own robots to perform. These short-term gigs might include tasks such as mowing the lawn, housekeeping, or consider managing a bionic bartender to tend bar at a beach getaway during the tourist high season.”
Then there are opportunities to become a franchisee of standalone kiosks run by robotics. As an example Coughlin mentions Fresh Healthy Vending International (OTCQB: VEND), which launched a novel franchise concept last year called Reis and Irvy’s Froyo Kiosk.
“How many other robotized businesses might emerge requiring no staffing and relatively scant labor on the part of the human owner? For people with an entrepreneurial spirit, there might be many similar opportunities in the future,” he muses.