Smart Robots Can Take Your Job Away

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jan 18, 2016


Disruptive labor market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries, according to a recent study. The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), suggests a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions, according to Thompson Reuters. 

Four out of ten young people believe machines will be able to do their jobs within a decade, an international survey published on Monday has found. Nearly half of young workers surveyed in Western countries said their education did not prepare them to do their jobs. The skills gap is especially pronounced in Europe, according to a poll of 9,000 16- to 25-year-olds in nine of the world’s biggest nations commissioned by Indian business and software services firm Infosys.

Almost 80 percent globally said they had to learn new skills not taught them in school and that rapid technology change – the threat of being overtaken by robots or smart systems – required constant learning of fresh skills to compensate.

The study surveyed around 1,000 young people each in India, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany and the United States, as well as South Africa, where a smaller sample of 700 was polled.

Read more: Breathe Humans, Robots Won’t Take Up All Our Jobs!

Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka said that the technologies have evolved far faster than what was thought possible even 10 years ago, while the educational system remains wedded to practices initially designed for agrarian societies 300 years ago. “We must transition away from our past; shift the focus from learning what we already know to an education focused on exploring what hasn’t happened yet,” he told Reuters in response to the findings.

Globally, while almost two-thirds of those queried said they felt positive about their job prospects, those in developing markets Brazil, China, India and South Africa were far more optimistic than their peers in developed markets. While in India, 60 per cent said they think they have the skills needed for their careers, just a quarter were similarly optimistic in France, the poll found. The survey also showed that the level of confidence which young people had in their technical skills correlated with their beliefs in their future career prospects.

The survey was conducted by London-based ICM Unlimited. It was released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which is focused on what it describes as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the broad social and economic shifts taking place due to disruptive digital technologies.

The “Future of Jobs” report concluded that jobs would be displaced in every industry, although the impact would vary considerably, with the biggest negative losses likely to be in healthcare, reflecting the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services. At the same time, however, there will be a growing demand for certain skilled workers, including data analysts and specialist sales representatives.

Read more: Jobs In 2025: Take On Robots With Your Creativity

Women will be the biggest losers as their jobs are often concentrated in low-growth or declining areas such as sales, office and administrative roles, the report said, adding that men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.

While the human-robot relationship is evolving with organizations, Daryl Plummer, Managing VP and Chief of Research and Gartner Fellow, however stated in a report that - robots will rule our lives and work completely would be an exaggeration. Gartner also predicts, by 2018, 45 percent of the fastest-growing companies will have fewer employees than instances of smart machines.

“It will happen with startups and new companies first, but the speed, cost savings, and productivity improvements of employing smart machines means that some companies will use machines over human workers, such as in a fully automated supermarket, robotic hotel, or security firm with drone-only surveillance services,” says Plummer.

However, there’s a reality check here. He believes, despite being touted as future agents, robots still lack the ability to do everything that humans do or “Can’t think.” They are pretty good at implementing orders, but not giving it,. concludes Plummer.