In the past, there have been many illustrations and speculations of robots or AI “Artificial Intelligence” replacing workers to do a man’s job either as a factory worker, a garbage collector or even as a cab driver.
This concern over technological unemployment is hardly a recent phenomenon. Throughout history, technological progress has vastly shifted the composition of employment, from agriculture and the artisan shop to manufacturing and clerking, to service and management occupations.
Now, the rapid rate of technological and digital advance threatens human workers. And many people fear a jobless future and their anxiety is not unjustified as the world is constantly changing. But how close are we to losing our job with robots or these automated machines? Or is the concern over technological unemployment has it only been proven to be just exaggerated?
“The replacement of jobs by machines has been happening continuously since the Industrial Revolution, but it’s expected to significantly accelerate in the coming 10 or 20 years,” The director of ISEA, Professor Johannes Moenius has said in a statement. “Pretty much everyone will be affected, but some metropolitan areas will see a lot more jobs vanish than others.”
The website, “Will Robots Take My Job?” is a site developed by Mubashar Iqbal and designed by Dimitar Raykov. They extracted the jobs and their probability of being automated from a 2013 report by Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne of the University of Oxford.
In this report, the two authors examined 702 detailed occupations that are susceptible to computerization and according to their estimates, around 47 percent of the total US employment is in the high-risk category of being automated.
Despite the fact that the report is specific to the US job market, the information sends a shiver down the spine. Those numbers that were presented four years ago can only be assumed to be higher now and that it might be affecting the rest of the world.
Frey and Osborne’s model predicts that most workers in the transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labour in production occupations, are at risk. They find that a substantial share of employment in service occupations, where most US job growth has occurred over the past decades, are highly susceptible to computerization.
As the artificial intelligence advance and accelerate, robots are gaining enhanced senses and dexterity, allowing them to perform a broader scope of manual tasks. This is likely to change the nature of work across industries and occupations, allowing them to take all corners of the labour market.
The director of engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil, anticipates that by 2029 robots will have reached human levels of intelligence. This artificial intelligence and robots are no longer just challenging blue-collar jobs but are starting to take over white-collar professions as well putting more jobs in danger of being replaced by automation.
Here are other examples of jobs that has 98 to 99 percent probability of automation and which are basically doomed when the rise of the machines come – procurement clerks, tellers, loan officers, order clerks, data entry keyers, library technicians, tax preparers, insurance underwriters, or photographic process workers and processing machine operator. But then again, all of which has no guarantee.
If you are thinking about changing careers, it might be the right time to take into account the data being presented, take up a stand and get out of that comfort zone and look for something that is more secure.
However, while some experts predict that several human workers will be out of work in the near future, others express their opposite views. They consider that this increase in computing capabilities will merely eliminate old jobs and introduce new ones. This means that the new technology will bring new products and services.
The experts called this movement as the “Second Machine Age” that which involves the automation of many cognitive tasks that make humans and software-driven machines substitutes, rather than complement. This is in contrast with what they call the “First Machine Age” or Industrial Revolution that which mostly complement to humans with the invention of the steam engine and the machine age that developed.
The Industrial Revolution marked a major turning point in history from about 1760 to 1840. This was the transition to new manufacturing process including the development of steam power, machine tools and the rise of the factory system.
But steam did not simply replace man’s physical power during this period; It simply changed how the old jobs were done and created new employment opportunities for people. New technologies helped increased the demands enough that resulted for employment to grow. But the question now is, will we see the same result in the aftermath of this Second Machine Age?
Digital technologies will continue to accelerate and companies will continuously look for faster outputs, improved quality, and higher profits. The innovators and the likes will continue to develop robotic replacements as the demand increase to do more with less. And though many more jobs are at the risk of disappearing, we still have that an advantage against robots for certain jobs: those that require creative thinking, human interaction and judgement.
The two authors, Frey and Osborne, also said that their findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization like for example, tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. They also added that for workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.
In addition to that, we need to switch gears and reinvent ourselves in order for us to progress at the same rate and keep up with the accelerating technology. We, including both economy and society, need to figure out how we can develop new or higher skills and new business models to generate the new demand that will result in increased employment. In which in this case, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee recommend to encourage education and entrepreneurship.