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Will you be replaced by robots?

Posted by: Lauren Cox 22 Jul 15  | Digital |  Technology

By 2025, it is predicted that robots will take over 30% of our jobs; with the news that unemployment is once again on the rise, should we be worried?

According to Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, it is anticipated that by 2029, robots will have reached human levels of intelligence and will eventually be able to perform as well as we already do, or even improve the performance we already give.

There’s already a BakeBot robot baking fresh cookies on the MIT campus, as well as medical support robots in hospitals; as robotic functionality continues to expand, the fear of a jobless future is certainly not unjustified.

The news of employee expendability comes alongside one of the biggest skills shortages seen in 30 years, with a recent study of British companies that employ engineering and IT staff finding that more than half could not find the employees they were looking for. Unsurprisingly, 59 per cent of the businesses surveyed stated that this shortage would hugely implicate their business.

In a country that gave birth to the industrial revolution which overcame the limitation of human strength, the lack of engineers and IT technicians is naturally disappointing, especially with the risk of a “second machine age” movement threatening to overcome the limitations of the human mind.

So who is most at risk?

Your job security is determined by four key factors, in line with NPR’s estimations – the need for clever and creative solutions, the need to personally help others, the need to negotiate and the need for space. Apparently, the more important each of these components are, the less dispensable you are as an employee.

Sadly, it is office support roles that are most at risk, with roles like medical secretaries having an 81.5 per cent chance of being automated. Financial roles are also on the firing line, with accountants facing record highs of 93.5 per cent chance of being replaced by artificial intelligence.

Sales based roles are also two thirds more likely to be automated in the next ten years. Although this could ultimately make the selling process significantly more problematic as an interactive practice – it is assumed that connecting and engaging with an automaton would be much more difficult than with a human being.

Despite a high skills shortage in the IT and engineering sectors, there is opportunity to bridge the gap; chances of these roles becoming computerised in the near future are low. Creative roles and those that require a more personal approach are also much safer, with teaching vocations and roles that require high levels of medical training chances of being mechanical falling below 5 per cent.

What does this ultimately mean for the future of our economy?

Making existing industries more productive and the creation of completely new industries could create new opportunities for people in replacement of those that automation could diminish.

The past saw the industrial revolution create an implausible amount of employment opportunities and whilst there is uncertainty surrounding the “second machine age” producing the same outcome, we rest safe in the knowledge that robots are yet to take our intolerable wit and ability to crack jokes!


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