Illustration: Ashley Siebels
“I wuv you, robot!”
Little Rayna introduces herself by saying hello and waving in an effort to make friends, then goes to seal the deal with a “robot” by hugging it and saying those three words repeatedly. She really wuvs that robot. She doesn’t know that the object is not a sentinel of the future, but is reportedly a water heater left on the street.
As adorable as Rayna’s interaction is with what she thinks is a robot, people probably won’t feel the same way towards the technology if automation takes away their jobs in the future.
The UK Economic Outlook report by accounting and consulting firm PwC released last week said that about 30% of UK jobs and about 38% of U.S. jobs “could potentially be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s.”
And it’s not just English-speaking nations, of course. Robots could take 35% of the jobs in Germany and 21% of the gigs in Japan by then.
Robots and automation are not just threats for blue-collar jobs, but white-collar ones. Certain industries in the UK seem be most at risk, like “transportation and storage (56%), manufacturing (46%) and wholesale and retail (44%), but lower in sectors like health and social work (17%),” the report said.
The report provided some background information.
“…over the past few years, fears of technology-driven job losses have re-emerged with advances in ‘smart automation’ – the combination of AI, robotics and other digital technologies that is already producing innovations like driverless cars and trucks, intelligent virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, and Japanese healthcare robots,” the report said.
While the report said that each worker’s educational level plays a role in how likely they are to be replaced by a robot, they also said that “not all of these jobs may actually be automated” and that advances in AI and robotics will actually create new jobs as they change the ones we already have.
You might already be shrugging this off, thinking that this probably applies to everyone but you. You’re not alone. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shrugged off the threat of automation at a talk this week:”I’m not worried at all” about robots, he said. “In fact, I’m optimistic.”
A LivePerson survey showed that some 66% of participants said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that their jobs are secure, but that other people will lose theirs.
It’s impossible to specifically predict if and when a robot will take your job, but at the current rate of technological advancement, we could certainly see major changes in how work tasks are completed in the next few decades. Until then, it’s safe to say that little Rayna, at least, will be in good standing with our robot overlords.