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Jobs are in danger of being taken over by computers and robots in the near future

image41Catey Hill, a MarketWatch reporter, quotes that 80% of workers believe their current job will likely exist in 50 years, and just 6% say it will definitely not, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

Robots may soon claim your job.

“In general, workers tend to be confident about their own job prospects,” says Aaron Smith, the associate director of research at Pew — even as they “vaguely sense” that robots will take many jobs in the future.

While the reasons for this disconnect aren’t clear, Smith says it may be because the idea of robots taking jobs is still relatively abstract to many workers who haven’t yet experienced that themselves. So while they agree that robots can take jobs, “this is not something that registers as a meaningful worry to their own job prospects,” he says.

How likely is it that a robot will steal your job?

  • Mostly manual labor 82%
  • Middle-level white-collar professionals 82%
  • Manager or executive 73%
  • Administrative, clerical or customer service 74%
Source: Pew Research Center

Findings are confirmed by a previous study of more than 700 occupations by researchers at Oxford University. Furthermore, roughly 80 million jobs are in danger of being taken over by computers and robots in the near future, a separate report by the Bank of England estimates.

The White House, in its annual economic report of the president, predicts that there’s an 83% chance that automation will take a job with an hourly wage below $20, a 31% chance automation will take a job with an hourly wage between $20 and $40, and just a 4% chance automation will take a job with an hourly wage above $40.

The White House used the same data that underlines other research in the field of labor and robots to arrive at the conclusion.

The perennial question is what happens when a robot takes one of these low-wage jobs.

Traditionally, innovation leads to higher income, more consumption and more jobs, but the question is whether the current pace of automation may in the shorter term increase inequality.

One study found that higher levels of robot density within an industry lead to higher wages in that industry, the White House notes. However, that could be because the absence of lower-skills biases wage estimates upwards.

The White House says the findings demonstrate the need for training and education to help displaced workers find new jobs.

Some workers are at a higher risk of getting replaced by a robot than others.

The research, done by Citi with the University of Oxford, says the common denominator for low-risk jobs is that they are intensive in social and creative skills. “Most management, business and finance occupations, which are intensive in work requiring social skills, are largely confined to the low-risk category,” the report says. “This is also true of most occupations in arts and media, as well as jobs in education and healthcare.”

The Oxford University researchers contest that transportation and logistics, production and office and administrative occupations are most at risk. As a defence, workers will have to acquire creative and social skills, the researchers claim.

And yet, Smith notes, “workers today are not preparing for this eventuality in any meaningful way.”

Already, robots are a big part of the working world, with orders picking up pace, according to the Robotic Industries Association, an industry trade group.

Catey Hill covers personal finance and travel for MarketWatch in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CateyHill.

About Dr. Ev D'aMigo; PhD

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