That robots and other automatisms are called to occupy part of the jobs that, over the last decades, have been carried out by human beings, It is a reality that we have known for years and for which, some plus others less, we have been preparing for some time. At the end of the day it is not something new, since the first industrial revolution, back in the 18th century, we have been seeing how various types of automation assumed functions in the work environment. And also the first movements against it, such as Luddism.
What looms were in the 18th century, in these (not so) early 21st century is the “responsibility” of robots and automatisms increasingly related to industrial IoT and artificial intelligence, technologies that expand, day by day, the possibilities of these devices, making them eligible for more job positions. Something that, of course, means that such jobs are no longer an accessible job offer for humans, with all the consequences that this may have.
And the news in this regard is undoubtedly remarkable, especially after the thousand changes that, in all our lives, this 2020 has brought. I am referring, of course, to the coronavirus, a microscopic pathogen that has been reinventing our present almost day by day. In this context, World Economic Forum Has published a complete report in which he analyzes the future of the labor market in the short and medium term, and he ventures that in 2025, yes, so close, robots and other automation will take care of approximately 50% of today’s jobs.
Robots: one third to one half
LThe current distribution is 67% humans versus 33% robotsIn other words, we are talking about a two-to-one distribution. However, in these years, the forum expects that a change of 14%, leaving for humans a 53% vs. 47% for robots and automatisms. Until a few months ago, forecasts pointed to a more long-term deployment, but the coronavirus has driven a series of changes that, in the opinion of the Forum, will greatly accelerate this change.
There are, of course, many concerns generated by this situation. It’s not something new, and we’ve actually talked about it for years now, but as it gets closer, it is more necessary to take measures so that the social impact of this change is not as negative as it could. On a personal level, the key is undoubtedly to analyze whether the work we develop has a solution of continuity or, on the contrary, is directly threatened by this new reality. And, of course, if so, start a training and retraining plan right now.
And the fact is that, although we are talking mainly about the jobs that will disappear, since they will be carried out by robots, there is another very important number in relation to this revolution: 97 million, which is the number of jobs that the Forum estimates will be created in the new context. I work, of course, related to technology and artificial intelligence, but also with other activities such as content creation.
More complex is the transformation that must be carried out in relation to the possible collective social impact. There are already some proposals in this regard, such as states imposing a tax burden on robots that compensates for the revenue that is left to generate by human activity. Some taxes that, obviously, should be aimed at supporting a growing unemployed class due to lack of absorption capacity on the part of the labor market.
The future is wildly uncertain, with extremes ranging from the most catastrophic in which the machines control everything and the vast majority of the population starve to death, and a futuristic happy arcade in which robots work for us, while we humans are carried away by idleness and contemplation, like Roman senators. Reality is most likely to be somewhere reasonably in between.
The most interesting thing, in any case, is that we are living the moment in which many of the elements that will shape that future will be defined. And it is in our power, and even more so in that of the youngest, to prepare ourselves so that that 50% / 50% turn robots into good co-workers (even if they do not have a good conversation at coffee time), and not into dangerous enemies who threaten to take over our job as soon as we leave the table. At least that’s the case, until the evolution of technology turns us, humans too, into robots. But that is another story.