WILL ROBOTS TAKE YOUR JOB?

A joint research by MIT and Boston University studied the effects of increased use of industrial robots between 1990 and 2007. Results estimates an extra robot per 1,000 workers could potentially cut 5.6 human jobs. In that period, industrial robots alone have eliminated up to 670,000 American jobs. China is also building fully automated factories. In some cases, 1 robot can do the work of 140 human workers. 

As estimated by Deloitte, around 39% jobs would be replaced in legal services and around 6% jobs are supposed to be replaced in the next 5 years. Similarly accountant jobs have 95% chance of being replaced. Jobs like insurance underwriters and claims representatives, bank tellers and representatives, financial analysts and construction workers, inventory managers and stock listings, taxi drivers, and manufacturing workers jobs are coming into extinction. All of these fields employs a huge headcount.

Blue collar manufacturing jobs are being replaced at an increasing rate by the hundreds of thousands as robots are being deployed into many factories and workplaces across the world. Research from KPMG suggests that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers a 40% to 75% reduction in costs. RPA-based processes run non-stop, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and they’re fast.

New technologies will create new opportunities in many fields. There’s an unprecedented shortage of programmers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts and IT specialists, among others. For example, there’s currently a 1 million shortage of skilled workers in the cybersecurity sector. According to ISC2, that number will rise to 1.5 million by 2020. Additionally, a study of job ads from April found more than 10,000 vacancies in the US for people with AI or machine-learning skills.

Some economists claim automation will create many more jobs than those lost. Boston University economist James Bessen, stated that “in the 45 years since the introduction of the automated teller machine, the number of human bank tellers employed in the United States has roughly doubled.” What Bessen doesn't take into account is that the US population increased by roughly 120 million people since the introduction of the ATM into the US, so population (as well as increased services) helped to contribute to an increase in bank tellers.

I have no doubt that technology will create new job roles, but will displace many more jobs than it creates and at a much faster pace than in previous revolutions. Jobs will be lost at a greater pace than ever before, a rate that might pass the threshold of our ability as a nation to provide a reasonable level of employment for all persons. This isn't like the earlier Industrial Revolutions, this is not replacing some jobs by machinery, it is replacing people with intelligent machinery. There's a fundamental difference in eliminating some jobs from the labor market (to be replaced by other jobs), and eliminating humans in general from the labor market (to be replaced by machines). The previous industrial revolution involved human augmentation. This coming revolution involves human replacement. The entire point of automation is to reduce overhead. How do you do that? You remove salaries, benefits, and human error. What happens to the humans? Robots and AI will take jobs and not everyone can be re-trained.

Every single technological advance in human history has brought new economic opportunities and increased the living standards of everyone. That is because every single technological advance in human history has leveraged the productivity of everyone. AI will enormously leverage the productivity of those very few who have specialty skills.

Despite the massive potential of AI systems, they are still far from replacing many kinds of tasks that people are good at or tasks that require creativity, innovation, or empathy. The jobs that are most at risk are those which “are on some level routine, repetitive, and predictable.” The trend of technology is to always replace the lowest strata of workers. Many of these are unwilling or incapable of improving their intellectual capacity to get ahead of the curve. A big part of today's workforce will still become redundant. Secondly, the ageing population of Western mature countries reinforces the point above.

I believe we could see a world where data and technology replace entire classes of employment. We need to be paying close attention and invest in the job skills and education sectors that are anticipated to grow.

It was once believed that the purpose of enterprise is to provide employment. This is no longer the case as boosting shareholder value has taken precedence. Businesses are looking for every method to reduce cost and/or human error so they can maintain a competitive edge in the global market place. It's about competition and they will reasonably do what they have to, to survive. Outsource or automate—whatever will reduces costs. So take active steps to keep yourself relevant in the job market.

 

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The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

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To Your continued Success!

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