Will Robots Steal Our Jobs?

So, I just read a staggering statistic that I think the rest of you would be equally WTF?! over. According to a study sponsored by the World Economic Forum, humans will be losing an approximate 5.1 million jobs to robots within the next five years.

The study examined 15 different economies across the world, who combined make about 65% of the international workforce. Due to the upward trend of technology and service-oriented robotics, about 7 million jobs will be lost. However, 2 million will be gained due to the progress of technology in these different nations.

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As of right now, robots and machinery have begun taking over more general jobs, like cashiers. However, as they become more and more widespread, the World Economic Forum believes that these robots will become smarter and more specialized.

"As entire industries adjust, most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. While some jobs are threatened by redundancy and others grow rapidly, existing jobs are also going through a change in the skill sets required to do them."

A Business Insider report backed up study, adding that the jobs they believe are most at risk are ones involving data entry or more clerical-style operations, including pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, drivers, astronauts, store clerks, soldiers, babysitters, rescuers, and sportswriters.

(The idea of astronauts being replaced by robots is seriously depressing to me. Space travel is so exciting because humans are doing it!)

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CNN also cited a Bank of America sponsored study that added more jobs to the list: bakers, butchers, tour guides, tax collectors, telemarketers, insurance sales agents, retail salespeople, clerks, accountants, and pharmacy technicians. It also added that the manufacturing industry will see a huge boom in robot workforce, increasing 35% by 2025.

"To prevent a worst-case scenario – technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality – reskilling and upskilling of today's workers will be critical. It is simply not possible to weather the current technological revolution by waiting for the next generation's workforce to become better prepared."

The good news is that there are still plenty of jobs that are pretty unlikely to be replaced by robots any time soon. Anything involving the arts, empathy, or intuition - such as social work, teaching, or police work - require a type of human interaction that robots just can't replicate. (So next time you're teased about your 'worthless' liberal arts degree, feel free to let them know about the impending robot revolution.)

So what do you guys think? Are robots really going to be taking over so much so quickly? Do you think the government should have any say over how much robotics is used?

Let me know in the comments below, and for more WTF news, follow the WTF Street Journal collection.

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