By 2030, 800 Million Jobs Might Be Taken By Robots

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Robot and Automation

The study of 46 countries and 800 occupations by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs might be taken by robots. CB Insights firm researches and analyses that at least 10 million U.S. jobs are exposed to being automated in the next decade.

The development in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will have tremendous impact on the economic growth and our lives. From simple and repetitive jobs to complicated ones, robots can master skills to perform with higher speed and lesser errors than humans. Therefore, substituting human labourers with machines can boost productivity growth, reduce labour costs and enhance economic growth.

6 Jobs at Greatest Risks

Jobs that robots can replace tend to be lower-income jobs, which are predictable and repetitive in nature.

According to a highly cited study by Oxford University academics called The Future of Employment, below are 6 jobs that are at greatest risk:  

  • Telemarketer: 99% chance of automation
  • Loan officer: 98% chance of automation
  • Cashier: 97% chance of automation
  • Paralegal and legal assistant: 94% chance of automation
  • Taxi driver: 89% chance of automation
  • Fast food cook: 81% chance of automation

A telemarketer’s job is highly routine and faces a 99% chance of automation. Allowing smart machines to collect customers’ data, organisations can deliver better and more engaging client experiences. Most paralegal and legal assistant jobs are repetitive in nature and they too face a 94% chance of automation.  

Uber Self-Driving Car

You must have heard of Uber self-driving car initiative.  Vivek Wadhwa, author of “The Driver in the Driverless Car,” estimates that automation of approximately 5 million driving jobs can occur in the early 2020s. The new industry will also create new job opportunities such as managers who oversee the self-driving vehicles’ activities.  

More than 4.3 million cooks and servers also face the risk of automation. Fast food cooks are at the highest risk due to its repetitive nature. Robots can perform tasks such as making burgers, mixing salad or brewing coffee easily. Automation technologies in place today is estimated to affect half the global economy which includes 1.2 billion employees and USD$14.6 trillion in wages.

6 Safest Jobs

Some jobs are believed to be harder to replace by robots. These include:

  • Mental health and substance abused worker: 0.3%
  • Occupational therapist: 0.35%
  • Dietitian and nutritionist: 0.39%
  • Physician and surgeon: 0.42%
  • Clergy: 0.81%

Many people assume that AI can only replace human beings in areas that require high levels of computation, manual labour or data-driven optimisation. However, there is potential for machines to perform creative or people-focused jobs too. It is amazing that machines have beaten the best human players at most games held up as measures of human intellect, such as chess or scrabble. For example, new AI can even compose original music just like a human composer.

Music and AI

Martin Ford, futurist and author of Rise of the Robots : Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future notes: “For now, humans are still best at creativity but there’s a caveat there. I can’t guarantee you that in 20 years a computer won’t be the most creative entity on the planet. There are already computers that can paint original works of art. So, in 20 years who knows how far it’s going to go?”

Nonetheless, the change in job market is not only driven by automation. A 2016 World Economic Forum report determined other contributing factors. These include climate change, the rise of the middle class in many emerging markets, aging populations in certain parts of Europe and East Asia, and the changing ambition of women.

The continuous advancement in technology and changing job structure will transform our working lives. It will create new roles, redefine existing jobs and shift in career for many employees. This transition may also exacerbate income and gender inequality issues. The challenge at hand will be how we prepare for the future and manage the changing job market.  


What jobs will be still around in 20 years?

Automation threatens 800 million jobs, but technology could still save us

Robot automation will ‘take 800 million jobs by 2030 (BBC News [Archived])


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