Complaints of technology stealing our jobs and making human workers surplus to requirements are not new – they date back to the time of the Luddites smashing machinery in protest back in the 19th century. With the rise of recent modern technology, this worry has never been more prominent in our thoughts.
Should we really be worried about losing our jobs or is this just scaremongering? Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics can mean higher productivity, increases in efficiency and convenience. Modern technology clearly has benefits and as well as enabling us to live longer, perhaps it can make our work life more enjoyable, rather than simply making us redundant.
ONS reports suggest that around 1.5 million jobs could be at risk from being automated in the UK. 20 million jobs have been analysed and results showed 7.4% are at high risk of being automated. When we talk about automation, it is tasks and processes we are talking about. Machines, computers and technology have the ability to take over some of the tasks and processes that workers carry out, but focusing on these tasks misses the overall activities involved in a worker’s job.
Studies at Goldsmith’s University London found that although 58% of activities and 30% of tasks at work could be automated by robots, only 5% of actual jobs could be fully automated. Therefore, rather than replacing jobs and making people surplus to requirements, technology can be seen to be taking over the mundane and repetitive tasks and processes that workers carry out as part of their jobs.
Could this allow human workers to be free to work on the more creative tasks and innovative, enjoyable activities? If technology is able to take over these boring tasks, it is no longer necessary for workers to do the mundane and tedious tasks, and surely that would make working life more enjoyable?
There are, of course, jobs that have already been become extinct in recent years, and it is not realistic for us to ignore the fact that some positions are now obsolete. However, we surely must accept that times do change and that all is not necessarily lost due to this change. In previous revolutions, benefits have taken time to filter down to the workforce, However, we now have the benefit of understanding history, and we must prepare for the technological transition.
Many experts in the RPA field believe that the technological revolution will create just as many jobs, if not more, than it takes away. As technology shapes the jobs that humans are required and able to do, the job market evolves and human workers must also then evolve their skillset to keep up to date. The focus must be placed on education and transition to ensure workers are relevant to the job market and are therefore able to enjoy their working life in harmony with technology.
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