SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore is going through a time of rapid change and uncertainty in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. He noted that artificial intelligence is taking over skilled professional jobs.
One example is the "Huggler". The monkey-like Huggler robot is being used to help the elderly in reducing depression, and to diagnose mental conditions such as dementia.
Researchers believe the Huggler can also reduce the workload of therapists, nurses and caregivers.
Dr Tan Yeow Kee, a scientist for the Institute for Infocomm Research, said: "By having this Huggler pet robot to accompany the elderly, the caregivers can probably do other important tasks or even probably have a break."
The Huggler is made up of several components -- surface microphones are installed in the head and in the body. Underneath, there is the speaker and a smartphone.
Industrial robots can also soon perform tasks previously done by skilled technicians, computer programmers and engineers. It can save costs for companies and at the same time increase productivity by up to 40 per cent.
Dr Yang Guilin, a senior scientist with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, said: "We can also reduce the reliance on foreign workers and also skilled workers, thus we can reduce the manufacturing cost also. So finally, we can improve the competencies of the local SMEs through these technologies."
However, researchers said robots are never meant to replace humans.
Dr Yang said: "Robots actually work side-by-side with humans but robots will do dirty, dangerous and some demanding tasks."
Thus, as robots become more prevalent, researchers expect these skilled workers to perform other higher-level tasks like supervision or decision-making. - CNA/ac
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