Will Robots Steal Your Job?


Do you think that a robot cannot do your job as well as you? Do not be so confident in this matter.

From big corporations to start-up initiatives to university libraries, more and more workers are caught in a competition they cannot win against smart machines and digital technologies that are acquiring “ordinary” skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate and are easier and cheaper to use. Currently, the global economy is experiencing a dramatic growth driven by modern technology that not only helps in producing and managing but also intrudes into the labor market transforming it greatly. Let us be honest: in many cases, robots turn out to be more powerful, flexible, affordable, and multitasking than most average workers. So, it will not be surprising if one day you come to work and learn that your boss is going to replace you with a robot. Perhaps, it sounds like science fiction, but everything that human can do a machine is able to do also, says Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston. You can also checkout How to Remove Prisma Watermark on Pictures .

Toyota and Tesla Motors produce cars that can drive themselves. Scientists from North Carolina State University designed a high-tech library with 1.5 million books kept in 18,000 metal bins where robots carry out the work of librarians. WhatsApp has only 55 employees, 32 of whom are engineers. Uber is a global app-based taxi service replacing some freelance drivers with self-driving vehicles. In 2011, Chinese Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, decided to install 10,000 robots instead of hiring humans. Seven out of ten American workers could get fired and be replaced by machines in the near future. It is just a matter of time.

Most Vulnerable Jobs

More than a third of current jobs in the world are at high risk of computerization over the following two decades. In 2013, University of Oxford researchers Michael A. Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey predicted that 47 percent of total jobs in the United States risked being automated and taken over by smart machines by 2033. They had studied the impact of robotics on employment for several years and finally found out that technology could have huge consequences not just for the blue-collar positions, but for the white-collars as well. Almost nothing is impervious to automation. This means that employees on the knowledge-based jobs that were supposed to be irreplaceable by robots actually could be replaced.

Over the past decades, machines and programs have already substituted for a large number of jobs, including the functions of cashiers, bookkeepers, and shelf fillers. And deep automation will touch all kinds of jobs, from manual labor to mental work. It is clear that certain aspects of a job are simpler to automate than others. For example, while sales jobs that do not necessarily need a high level of social intelligence like telephone salespersons, typists, financial account managers, and bank clerks will most likely vanish with up to 90 percent probability.

On the other hand, Osborne and Fray believe that psychologists, nurses, and social workers should not worry, as well as creative workers. At least, for now, until robots “learn” to empathize and generate original ideas.

Displacing, Not Replacing

Current advances in digital tech stir up anxiety among workers. But professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson are more optimistic about this matter. In their new book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, they write that the level of unemployment will not necessarily increase with the automating of most middle-class jobs. Yes, intelligent machines are displacing many workers, but at the same time, they create jobs in absolutely new fields. For example, today, a vast majority of farmers no longer use animals as a draft force because machines displaced their jobs and their work animals. Instead, automation of agriculture created millions of new professions. Employees will be displaced, not replaced. New technology reduces the cost of products and services, therefore sufficiently increasing the demand and involving a greater amount of jobs in the process.

However, technology is challenging the professional future of the so-called white collars. MIT scholars say that there has never been a worse time to be a worker with only “ordinary” skills to offer because a robot is able to do simple routine tasks much better than any human. Now, computers can diagnose cancer not worse than radiologists. In short, if the only thing you can is to move stuff from one place to another, it is time to start worrying.

Robot Takeover: It Is Just Beginning

All the while, machines will continue to steal white-collar jobs. Any work dealing with stacks of paperwork will be taken over by robots. Medicine, architecture, jurisprudence, programming—it does not matter in what field you work because you will be displaced in several years with a high probability. Even now, while you are wondering how a piece of metal or a couple lines of computer code could do your job better than you, artificial intelligence is already operating many of our machines. And you could probably never determine whether the newspaper story you have just read had been created by a human or software. Today, only collectors and connoisseurs buy handmade cloth—most clothes and accessorizes on the store shelves are made by automated looms. We have created drones—aircraft that fly without a human pilot aboard. Much tax operations, pretrial evidence-gathering, and routine X-Ray analysis have gone to computer software. Robot does what human cannot: machines make microchips, conduct surgeries, produce exact brasses with great speed. We do not give robots “good jobs.” Instead, all they do is either something we cannot do or do not want to do, so that people have more time and opportunities for searching for a sense of life.

Most experts assert that it is a safe bet: robots create professions that we have not even imagined but that will want to have. The most highly paid jobs of the future will be created by robots and will depend on automation and technology.


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