We're happy to have robot colleagues

Will having robot colleagues make work more interesting - or put us out of a job?

Robot colleagues

Three quarters of people are perfectly happy to have robot colleagues. More than half of the say that the robots can do the drudge work, and therefore make their jobs more interesting, while two thirds say they can help them get more done. The study, by jobsite.co.uk found that the jobs people were keenest to outsource to robots were customer billing, cyber security and administration.

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Jobsite CEO Nick Gold echoed this enthusiasm, saying: "In a job market riddled with skill shortages, workers should be embracing automation, as businesses use advances in technology to bridge the skills gap."

Gold is keen to emphasise that while some jobs will go over time, others will be created. He says: "This technology is a powerful tool to create efficiencies but, like other technologies have done before, new opportunities and jobs will be created in its wake."

He continues: "This mirrors what we're seeing on our website; with vacancy numbers steadily rising, it would seem that job losses are a way off. As such, candidates should not be discouraged. Whether you're a fan or a critic, one thing is clear – automation is here to stay and is only going to become more accessible."

The experts agree that within some industries, there will always be the need for real human contact. As such, specialisms such as social care and people management are likely to remain in the hands of humans.

Worried

However, while most people are excited about a future without boring admin, there is a significant minority with misgivings. In the survey, 33% of people were concerned that their jobs might be at risk, while 37% were worried that it might make their skills obsolete.

In the short-term it appears that we may not have too much to worry about. As robots do more and more of the mindless and boring bits of everyone's jobs, we can look forward to focusing on the meaningful things where we can add value.

The question is what happens in the long run. While some individuals will continue to be able to add value above and beyond that offered by artificial intelligence, not everyone will. The technologists are talking about replacing up to 80% of all jobs with robots - including white-collar roles. They refer to the 'hollowing out' of middle class jobs.

And while certain jobs will still require humans, they are likely to be far fewer in number. Big businesses won't require huge enterprises with thousands of employees worldwide: if you look at the big names of the new economy, all of them are getting by with a tiny workforce of specialists.

The question is, what people will do when robots have the vast majority of jobs? Will we suddenly find ourselves on the breadline? Will we become subservient to our new robot overlords? Or will we benefit from a new life of well-paid leisure?

And will we look back on the day we welcomed robots into the workforce with satisfaction or regret?


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