Summary: Will robots soon leave legions of humans unemployed and insecure? Perhaps not.
Original author and publication date: David Mullen – December 17, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: If we are unsure about what we are going to do in the near future. how can we be sure of what AI will do?
From the article:
In one vision of the not-too-distant future, robots handle half of all work tasks, leaving legions of humans unemployed and insecure. In another scenario, those same technologies revolutionize rather than reduce opportunities for people, creating jobs that have yet to be imagined. Such are the stakes as a new wave of automation reshapes the workplace, accelerated by the pandemic.
- Why is this an issue?
Advances in artificial intelligence, or the capability of machines to learn by ingesting large amounts of data, are driving a rethink of what jobs only humans can do. The changeover has already started.
Sales of professional service robots — those used for nonindustrial functions such as logistics, inspections and maintenance — reached 271,000 units in 2018, up 61% from 2017, according to the International Federation of Robotics. There are now 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories worldwide, and the federation expects that to increase to 4 million by 2022.
- Is this something to be feared?
Opinions vary. A 2018 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S. found “a wide range of viewpoints in the public discourse, ranging from alarmist predictions of massive unemployment caused by robots to sanguine predictions about net new job creation.”
- Which jobs are ripe to be automated?
Store cashier, clerk, telemarketer, paralegal, cook, waiter, receptionist, bank teller, security guard, data analyst, tax preparer and truck driver are among the jobs often mentioned as most susceptible to automation. Less obvious ones include surgeon, accountant and financial analyst. (Even some news reporting is being done by machines these days, including at Bloomberg News.) Jobs requiring repetitive tasks in a structured setting, primarily in manufacturing, were the first to be directly affected by automation, with the auto industry leading the charge. Since 1980, the number of U.S. manufacturing workers has shrunk by a third, to about 13 million, while output doubled. Newer machines come equipped with vision, mobility and the ability to learn. Sophisticated software is able to carry on phone conversations with customers, for instance.