Robots are challenging the human workforce and might replace them in millions of jobs within the next decade, sociology experts said in a new report Tuesday.
The British Royal Society of Arts said in an analysis that as many as 4 million British workers might be replaced by robots within 10 years.
Nearly four years ago, the University of Oxford predicted that 35 percent of the United Kingdom’s workforce could be replaced soon by new technology. The RSA report echoed that view.
“Machines are becoming more sophisticated and this can only mean the displacement of workers and the driving down of wages,” the report states.
The report also found that 13 percent of British employers said they expected around 30 percent of jobs will become automated by 2027.
However, the report notes, human workers in many fields can never be fully replaced.
“[Artificial Intelligence] and robotics are more likely to alter jobs than to eliminate them,” the RSA said. “Despite impressive advances in machine capability, many tasks remain outside of their scope, particularly those demanding manual dexterity and deeper forms of creativity and communication. Moreover, automation tends to be task-based rather than job-based, allowing workers to pivot into new roles should machines encroach on their turf.
“No single device can wholly substitute for retail assistants, care workers, hotel receptionists or building laborers.”
Machines could, however, play a part in deskilling workers and reducing work bargaining power and ultimately wages. Simultaneously, the influence of technology may raise productivity and competitiveness, perhaps increasing wages altogether.
How the future will pan out ultimately, the RSA concluded, comes down to how people work with artificial intelligence — and whether they implement new technology on their own terms.
Additionally, the analysis finds that machines tend to be task-based, allowing for workers to pivot to other positions within one role if one of their tasks is replaced by a machine.
“Among our recommendations are for employers to co-create automation strategies with their employees, for tech companies to take a lead on drafting and signing up to ethical frameworks, and for the government to establish personal training accounts that could aid lifelong learning,” the RSA analysis said.
Earlier this month, prominent British education leader Anthony Sheldon said he believes teachers will start to be replaced by artificial intelligence, also within the next decade.
“These are adaptive machines that adapt to individuals,” he said. “They will listen to the voices of the learners, read their faces and study them in the way gifted teachers study their students.”