World Economy

Robots Could Destroy Millions of Jobs Globally

Changes are already starting to be seen. Foxconn, a key manufacturing partner for Apple, Google, Amazon, and the world’s 10th largest employer, has already replaced 60,000 workers with robots
It’s difficult to predict exactly how robots and other AI might change the economy.
It’s difficult to predict exactly how robots and other AI might change the economy.

A Nobel Prize-winning economist has warned that the rise in robotics and automation could destroy millions of jobs across the world.

Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel Prize last year for his work on health, wealth and inequality, said he believes robots are a much greater threat to employment in the US than globalization, Business Insider reported.

Addressing the theory that Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections was fueled by a backlash against globalization, Deaton told the Financial Times: “Globalization for me seems to be not first-order harm and I find it very hard not to think about the billion people who have been dragged out of poverty as a result. I don’t think that globalization is anywhere near the threat that robots are.”

He added: “It’s hard to think that Mark Zuckerberg is actually impoverishing anyone by getting rich with Facebook. But driverless cars are another matter entirely.”

President Barack Obama’s White House warned on Thursday that advances in artificial intelligence and robotics have the potential to wipe out millions of jobs in factories and industries like trucking, potentially increasing inequality, RT reported.

Automation through robots and other artificial intelligence could affect nearly half of all US jobs. Education and job-training programs could prevent the sea change from destroying the American economy, the White House said.

Scientists and economic advisers within the executive branch studied the potential effects of artificial intelligence on the US workforce and economy over the next 20 years, as well as ways to prevent the technological advances from automation from potentially destroying job opportunities for Americans?which they said it could, for up to 47% of jobs. Rather, the authors sought to guide the government’s automation policy to create better economic opportunities for the country as a whole.

 New Opportunities

“These transformations will open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they have the potential to disrupt the current livelihoods of millions of Americans,” the 55-page report said. “Whether AI leads to unemployment and increases in inequality over the long-run depends not only on the technology itself but also on the institutions and policies that are in place.”

The authors compared use of AI to how the Industrial Revolution introduced mass production to the economy, which negatively affected the livelihoods of skilled craftsman, as well as to the rise of computers in the workplace, which benefited white-collar workers.

“Output per hour rose (in the 19th Century) while inequality declined, driving up average living standards, but the labor of some high-skill workers was no longer as valuable in the market,” they wrote. “The advent of computers and the Internet raised the relative productivity of higher-skilled workers.”

“Shifting demand towards more skilled labor raised the relative pay of this group, contributing to rising inequality,” they continued. “At the same time, a slowdown in the rate of improvement in education, and institutional changes such as the reduction in unionization and decline in the minimum wage, also contributed to inequality—underscoring that technological changes do not uniquely determine outcomes.”

Although the report cautioned that it’s difficult to predict exactly how robots and other AI might change the economy in the future because it’s “not a single technology, but rather a collection of technologies that are applied to specific tasks,” the authors noted that the trend has been similar to what happened with computerization that occurred at the end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries. AI could affect as little as 9% of jobs over the next decade or two?or it could threaten nearly half of all jobs.

A September report released by Forrester Research found that 6% of jobs could be taken by “early-stage intelligent agents,” as soon as 2021. In November, a brief from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development claimed that up to two-thirds of all jobs in the developing world could be replaced by automation. More than 1.3 million Brits could lose their jobs to computers by 2030, according to research by Oxford University and consultancy firm Deloitte.

Although “AI-driven automation has yet to have a quantitatively major impact on productivity growth,” the administration’s report said, industries such as transportation and fast food are already seeing the results of automation, thanks to self-driving cars and the use of kiosks and other automated ordering systems.

The authors offered three policy strategies to guide the technological changes in the economy to be “compatible with productivity, high levels of employment, and more broadly shared prosperity.” They then noted: “Most of these strategies would be important regardless of AI-driven automation, but all take on even greater importance to the degree that AI is making major changes to the economy.”

 Fourth Industrial Revolution

The World Economic Forum predicted a “fourth industrial revolution” at the start of this year, as automation and robotics transform the global economy and the way we work.

WEF expects five million jobs to be destroyed by 2020 by the trends. An in-depth study by Citi and Oxford University also found that 77% of all jobs in China are at risk of automation and 57% of all jobs across the OECD.

Changes are already starting to be seen. Foxconn, a key manufacturing partner for Apple, Google, Amazon, and the world’s 10th largest employer, has already replaced 60,000 workers with robots. And two of the world’s ten largest employers globally—Walmart and the US Department of Defense—are using drones, for warehouse delivery and surveillance respectively.



What for will we need those evil machines if their only purpose is to feed the rich?! Destroy the robots!

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints