Robot Revolution: Eliminating Your Job

Will your career be altered by robots? Probably. Will your job be eliminated by robots? Maybe. The growth of robots to replace humans started many years ago, but as improvements to technology allow robots to do more and more things, your job may now be a target for a robotic replacement. The primary driver is cost: the cost of training, insurance, wages, etc. It is estimated that robots may cost as little as 10-20% as much as humans over the average human lifetime.

In this article by Heather Stewart, year learn that a new study indicates that may experts agree that in the coming years there may be fewer and fewer jobs that robots can’t do, from service to technology jobs.

A “robot 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 hoovering 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 judgment.

In a 300-page report, revealed exclusively to the Guardian, analysts from investment bank 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.

But it is not just low-skilled jobs, such as assembly-line work, that could be replaced: a report from the McKinsey Global Institute in 2013 found that up to $9tn in global wage costs could be saved as computers take over knowledge-intensive tasks such as analysing consumers’ credit ratings and providing financial advice.

A wide range of jobs could eventually be taken over by machines, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s analysts predict.

Burger flippers A San Francisco-based start-up called Momentum Machines has designed a robot that would replicate the hot, repetitive tasks of the fast-food worker: shaping burgers from ground meat, grilling them to order, toasting buns, and adding tomatoes, onions and pickles.

Manufacturing workers Relatively low-skilled industrial workers in rich countries have become used to competing against cut-price employees in cheaper economies. But while “offshoring” can cut labour costs by 65%, replacing workers with machines can cut them by up to 90%. The process is well advanced in countries such as Japan and South Korea; as other countries catch up, many more jobs will be taken over by technology.

Financial advisers Bespoke financial advice seems like the epitome of a “personal” service; but it could soon be replaced by increasingly sophisticated algorithms that can tailor their responses to an individual’s circumstances.

Doctors Some 570,000 “robo-surgery” operations were performed last year. Oncologists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York have used IBM’s Watson supercomputer, which can read 1m textbooks in three seconds, to help them with diagnosis. Other medical applications of computer technology involve everything from microscopic cameras to “robotic controlled catheters”.


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