Do you have a job that you are certain cannot be done by a robot in the very near future? Do you have skills that can survive the move to automated systems? Hold on to it. Experts are warning that robots will take over most jobs within 30 years. There seems to be a shared global understanding that the robot revolution is here and is leading to unemployment and will continue to do so into our future.
Professor Moshe Vardi from Rice University works with computational engineering and is the director of the Ken Kennedy Insitute for Information Technology. He was recently quoted by the Telegraph, saying:
We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. Robots are doing more and more jobs that people used to do. Pharmacists, prison guards, boning chicken, bartending, more and more jobs we're able to mechanise them.
I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?
The question I put forward is, 'Does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind?
A typical answer is that if machines will do all our work, we will be free to pursue leisure activities.
I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. That seems to me a dystopia. I believe that work is essential to human well-being
So, which industries are truly in trouble of robot takeover? There are surely jobs that would never be able to be replaced by a robot.
A recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House said that employees who make less than $20 an hour are working in sectors that are probably most at risk of being replaced by a robot.
The Pew Research Center also conducted research, nationally across the United States. The results of the survey showed that 65% of Americans think that robots will be doing most jobs done by humans today.
Steve Mackay, the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, spoke about the fourth industrial revolution that the world is currently experiencing, that is automating some jobs that humans will most likely not be doing in the near future. In the fourteenth episode of the Engineering News Network, he says: "Mainly jobs in repetitive industries...any task that can be automated is generally repetitive, unfortunately. We need to look for other opportunities."
Mackay thinks creative industries will grow as automation replaces a lot of industries that required professionals before. He also refutes that there is no shortage of STEM skills as has bee claimed in the world today. He also says there should be a focus on entrepreneurship no matter which industry you are working in and thereby you might be able to achieve more in the world where the fourth industrial revolution automates the world.
In January of 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published projections that stated 5.1 million jobs would be in trouble from 2015-2020 in 15 countries due to the rise of automation in several industries. The report was named The Future of Jobs and is freely available to read. The report also suggested a host of things the world can do to further prepare for the automation overhaul in a long term situation:
1. Rethinking education systems
2. Incentivizing lifelong learning
3. Cross-industry and public-private collaboration
Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the WEF, said: "Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with future-proof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base."
The widespread cautioning has been underlined in India as well. Warning students to make good decisions of what to study might future-proof the number of working humans in the future. At the Hindu Education Plus Career Counselling 2016 conference hosted by VIT University, a career consultant and analyst, Jayaprakash A. Gandhi said: "It is not enough to nurture your dreams alone. One has to understand these realities and pursue studies based on that understanding. If you do not update yourself, you will get outdated yourself. Parents should look for educational institutions that teach beyond the syllabus and should never compromise on the best college."