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Could AI Take Over the Role of Electricians?

Richard Miller |

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 rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation has sparked quite a chatty debate about the future of numerous professions. We're seeing groundbreaking changes from manufacturing to healthcare. But how will this impact hardworking electricians? Are they destined to be replaced by bots, or is automation simply going to change the way they go about their day-to-day duties.

The Current State of Automation in the Electrical Industry.

Automation is by no means a foreign concept in the electrical sector. The modern electrician's toolkit is flush with automated gadgets that amp up both efficiency and accuracy—think wire strippers, crimping tools, and high-end diagnostic equipment.
Robotics is muscling into the scene too. Imagine robotic arms deftly handling complex wiring tasks or drones buzzing about conducting inspections in those awkward nooks and crannies that are a health and safety nightmare. These aren't figments of a sci-fi imagination; they're innovations that are dialling down human risk while ramping up precision.

Should Electricians be Concerned?

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.
As with most new technologies, the initial barrier to widespread adoption and availability will be costly. 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.

What human qualities are irreplaceable?

According to AI experts, jobs that require dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility are among the least likely to be replaced in the near future. Currently, AI is unable to replicate these human behaviors and, as a result, cannot perform tasks that depend on 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.

One electrician on Reddit expressed the following sentiment:

“90% of my job is figuring out why something doesn't work because a "computer" got confused and can't finish its logic because an input or sensor failed, or something overdeveloped. I don't see how AI could solve these issues, at least not for a while until technology is far more advanced.”
The incorporation of AI into electrical services marks a significant step towards a future where electrical work becomes safer, more efficient, and better suited to the demands of a rapidly changing world. In this new era, electricians are more than just tradespeople performing physical tasks—they are innovators leading the technological revolution within the industry, leveraging these tools to enhance overall efficiency.
There is little doubt that AI will transform the electrical industry just as it has revolutionized other professions and aspects of modern life. However, one thing remains clear—the unique human touch inherent to the work of electricians means that the progress of automation serves as an opportunity rather than a threat.

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