The increasing reliance on automation and robots will see a larger percentage of American jobs being replaced by mechanized and automated systems, more than any other country, according to a new report. And the takeover will occur within the next 15 years.
Millions of workers around the world stand to lose their current jobs to artificial intelligence and robots in less than two decades, a report from PwC contends (per CNN). The United States, according to the analysis, would be the hardest hit, standing to lose 38 percent of its workforce to robots and automated systems. The development of artificial intelligence and advances in robotics will see humans replaced in a number of service-related fields.
According to the report, just behind the U.S. would be Germany, with 35 percent of its workers replaced. The United Kingdom will see 30 percent of its workforce displaced and in the market for new careers. Of the nations studied, Japan would be the least impacted, finding only 21 percent of its workers replaced by robots.
But why are more jobs at risk in the U.S. than in, say, the United Kingdom? According to PwC, the answer lies in the nature of the positions being taken over.
The U.S. and the U.K. are both dominated by service industry vocations, PwC says, and both countries enjoy roughly the same percentage of workers in fields like finance, transportation, education, manufacturing and food services. However, there are major differences in the work done in each of these sectors, not to mention the number of individuals performing those tasks. This is where the U.S. draws ahead of the U.K.
Take, for instance, financial services. This sector will see 61 percent of its jobs placed at a high risk of being lost to robot replacements. But in the U.K., only 32 percent of of those same positions will be threatened.
According to John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC in the U.K., finance sector jobs in the U.S. are dominated by domestic retail operations, such as small town bank tellers. But in the U.K. more of the finance services positions are filled with individuals working on international finance and investment banking, jobs that require higher levels of education and expertise.
According to Hawksworth, American workers in the industry “would be doing more routine tasks that are easier to automate than that of, say, an investment banker in London.”
That is the bad news. The good news revolves around a more educated, highly skilled workforce. “Creative and critical thinking will be highly valued, as will emotional intelligence,” says Jon Andrews, head of technology and investments at PwC.
Sectors that will be least impacted by moves toward increased automation and the use of more advanced robotics include education, health care and social work.
There will be a “restructuring of the jobs market,” Hawksworth says, that will not only eliminate the need for human workers, it will also present opportunities for the creation of other jobs. The rise of robots and automation in major markets, he notes, has not had a deleterious impact on the overall employment in said major economies.
The report also warns that the greater reliance on robots will ultimately lead to greater social inequality as well. Designers and producers of robots, and workers who have complementary skills to work alongside artificial intelligence-guided colleagues, will see more opportunities and enjoy more of the future maketplace’s wealth.
The PwC report echoes another issued by the think tank Reform in February, which predicted that the U.K. would lose as many as 250,000 public sector jobs. Within 15 years, the report stated, according to the Guardian, up to 90 percent of Whitehall’s administrators could be replaced by websites and artificial intelligence “chat bots” by 2030, and tens of thousands of positions in the National Health Service and General Practitioners’ surgeries.
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