As car manufactures replaced human workers with robots, you probably didn’t even give it a second thought. But a “robot revolution” has already started, and these human autoworkers were among the first to feel the effect, you may be next.
This revolution will transform the global economy over the next 20 years, cutting the costs of doing business but exacerbating social inequality, as machines take over everything from caring for the elderly to flipping burgers, according to a new study.
As well as robots performing manual jobs, such as vacuuming the living room or assembling machine parts, the development of artificial intelligence means computers are increasingly able to “think”, performing analytical tasks once seen as requiring human judgement.
In a 300-page report, revealed exclusively to the Guardian, analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch draw on the latest research to outline the impact of what they regard as a fourth industrial revolution, after steam, mass production and electronics.
“We are facing a paradigm shift which will change the way we live and work,” the authors say. “The pace of disruptive technological innovation has gone from linear to parabolic in recent years. Penetration of robots and artificial intelligence has hit every industry sector, and has become an integral part of our daily lives.”
However, this revolution could leave up to 35% of all workers in the UK, and 47% of those in the US, at risk of being displaced ty technology over the next 20 years, according to Oxford University research cited in the report, with job losses likely to be concentrated at the bottom of the income scale. “There will be a hollowing-out of middle income manual labor jobs.”
The authors calculate that the total global market for robots and artificial intelligence is expected to reach $152.7 billion by 2020, and estimate the adoption of these technologies could improve productivity by 30% in some industries.
Global Robotic Market
They point out that Google bought eight robotics companies in a two-month period in 2014, from Boston Dynamics, which makes the BigDog robot, to DeepMind Technologies which specializes in deep learning for artificial intelligence.
In the most advanced manufacturing sectors – Japan’s carmakers for example – robots are already able to work unsupervised around the clock for up to 30 days without interruption. While offshoring manufacturing jobs to low-cost economies can save up to 60% on labor costs, replacing human workers with robots saves up to 90%.
At present, there are on average 66 robots per 10,000 workers worldwide, the report finds; but in the highly automated Japanese car sector there are 1,520. But it’s not just low-skilled jobs at risk: a report from the McKinsey Institute in 2013 found that up to $9 trillion in global wage costs could be saved as computers take over knowledge-intensive tasks such as analyzing consumers’ credit rating and providing financial advice.
Andrew Simms, of think-tank the New Weather Institute, said this revolution could be an opportunity to realize the aspirations of the economist John Maynard Keynes, who predicted in 1930 that within a century, technology would enable the working week to be reduced to 15 hours with the rest of the time devoted to leisure.
However, without rethinking the relationship between work and society, the result could be a growing disparity between economic winners and losers. “We are in danger, for the first time in history, of creating a large number of people who are not needed,” he said. “The question should be, what sort of economy do you want, and to meet what human needs?”
A wide range of jobs could eventually be taken over by machines, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s analysts predict.
Burger flippers, Manufacturing workers, Financial advisers, Doctors, Care workers.
Read Article (Heather Stewart | theguardian.com | 11/04/2015)
This should be enough to make a young person stop and think of possibilities. After all, their working life is ahead of them, and they may face the ultimate competition. The future requires a well-stocked skill-set in the cement jungle.
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