Humans Need Not Apply future of work
Image: Connor McKenna

How to prepare for the robot takeover

10 Feb 2017

Welcome to the future. Humans need not apply. A new exhibition at Science Gallery Dublin is exploring what an automated world might look like.

There’s a lot of discussion around the future of work, particularly when it comes to AI and robotics becoming more integrated into the workplace.

Many experts are confident that advances in AI will, contrary to popular belief, actually create more jobs than it will get rid of.

Those experts have also quelled our fears about certain elements of human behaviour being usurped by intelligent, human-like bots.

Sure, they can analyse data at the drop of a hat and a lot of monotonous administration can be automated, but robots don’t have the level of creativity or emotional intelligence that humans have, right?

A new exhibition in Science Gallery Dublin is exploring the possibility that this might not be entirely true.

Entitled ‘Humans Need Not Apply’, the exhibition showcases artistic interpretations of how robots could take on more human abilities than we think, from being antisocial to feeling stressed.

Lynn Scarff, director of Science Gallery Dublin, said that this is not a show about robots. “It’s really a show about looking where AI and machine learning is taking us in terms of advances into the professional workforce.”

The exhibition showcases a number of different types of robotics. From the moment you walk in, you are counted by a robotic arm. As you delve further into the exhibits, you will find more emotionally intelligent robots, including Cozmo, the tiny robot pet with a personality.

While Cozmo might be friendly and excitable, there are also robots that will be less than interested in your company. Projecting alternative human behaviours, the antisocial swarm bots will try to get away from anything that might invade their personal space, including each other.

So, with all of these emotional abilities and what appears to be minds of their own, could these robots actually learn the desire to take over from humans completely?

One exhibition in particular envisions a possible future in which every last job in the world is taken by robots, and humans are essentially put out to pasture.

The Great Disengagement, created by artists Ted Meyer and Dave Lovejoy, depicts artefacts from a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been retired. It paints a vivid picture of what the future of work (or lack thereof) would look like if robots replaced our entire workforce.

“It’s basically a time capsule capturing some evidence of this thing as if it’s already transpired,” explained Lovejoy. “Computers without humans involved have become so streamlined and fast that these older technologies, these slower technologies, kind of function under the radar.”

If robots did take over the world of work, could they also take over the world of anxiety and stress that comes with it?

The Mindfulness Machine is also featured at the exhibition, providing a de-stressing environment with colouring and doodling. Its creative decisions are made by its mood, which changes based on ambient noise, how many people are watching and even the weather.

Humans Need Not Apply is a free exhibition running from Friday 10 February until the end of May in Science Gallery Dublin.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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