Monday, July 6, 2015

Robots portrayed as job killers

The mainstream media is fascinated by talk about robots replacing human workers in many jobs.
Robotics technology has improved and costs have come down, making it feasible to replace workers in factories, restaurants and other settings.
A recent Oxford University study said nearly half (47%) of all jobs are at risk of replacement by automation in two decades. A Wired article said 70% of jobs could be automated by the end of this century.
“Computers are getting smarter and stronger while employees, with their health insurance, pensions, and vacation time are becoming increasingly expensive,” writer Greg Jones said in Reason magazine. “The writing is on the wall; plenty of jobs, at least as performed by humans, aren’t long for this world.”
Efforts to get $15-an-hour wages for U.S. fast-food workers could lead to more automation in such restaurants. That means self-service kiosks for ordering and robots for making hamburgers and other food items. In the last couple of years, companies have introduced robots that can make burgers, burritos, pancakes, pizzas, salads and sushi.
But robots taking over manual labor jobs isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could free up the workforce for other types of work, as the New Yorker argued.
Jobs most at risk of being taken over by computers and robots in the next 20 years include telemarketers, accountants and retail salespersons, Business Insider reported.
NPR posted the “definitive guide” to determining which jobs are threatened by robots in the next 20 years.
Robotics Trends listed the 10 jobs that robots are least likely to replace. Tops is mental health and substance abuse social worker, followed by occupational therapist and dentist.

Photo: Time magazine cover for June 8, 2015, issue featuring the Running Man robot from IHMC.

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