Will AI Replace Human Employment?

11/4/2017

A recent report from accountancy firm PwC has found that robotics and artificial intelligence could affect almost a third of UK jobs by the 2030s. The highest likelihood of automation faces sectors such  as transport, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail. This report comes on the back of a 2013 University of Oxford report which concluded that roles among the least likely to be automated are professions that need creativity, like artists or designers, or a high level of social awareness and empathy; social workers, nurses, therapists and psychologists. The calculation of susceptibility of each particular job to automation in the latter report was based on nine variables: social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity and the need to work in a cramped work space.

Large corporations like Google and Tesla have been making developments into designing the world’s first driverless car. These advancements are predictably causing concern for the transportation industry. The impending advancements made in smart technology has already created driverless trains, but could later affect taxi, bus drivers, truck drivers and the call centre employees who control the driving operations.

The manufacturing industry will undoubtedly be further affected by automation. Any role which requires machinery operation or assembling objects is at risk. Initially, many machines may still need certain human operation/control but AI could eventually control these machines. The speed and cost efficiency of robotics will undoubtedly seem appealing to large manufacturing companies looking to reduce costs. The typical ‘blue collar’ roles are not the only professions that may be in jeopardy. Many roles within the legal and financial industries are also at high risk of being automated. More complex algorithms are being developed to undertake repetitive tasks like the scanning of numerous documents and the tedium of administration.

There are concerns amongst professionals that education and training in many industries is defunct due to the rate at which cognitive technology is advancing. But despite the fear of the future arriving too early, there are some positives to be taken from the developments in technology. Advancements in healthcare, for example, will allow nurses to spend more time with patients. And unfulfilling, menial jobs will become eliminated amongst many industries, freeing up valuable time and – theoretically at least – allowing individuals to have more balanced lifestyles.

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