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Will Robots Replace Humans By 2030? 

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Meta description: With advances in robotics and artificial intelligence entering an exponential phase, every-day jobs performed by billions of human beings are on the brink of being replaced by technology. Over the next 13 years, the rising tide of automation will force as many as 70 million workers in the United States to find another way to make money, a new study from the global consultancy McKinsey predicts.

The study found that in more advanced economies like the U. S. and Germany, up to one-third of the 2030 workforce may need to learn new skills and find new work. In economies like China’s, roughly 12 percent of workers may need to switch occupations by 2030. For some industries, an increase in automation won’t mean a decline in employment, but rather a shift in the tasks needed to be done.

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For example, any job that involves managing people, applying expertise and social interaction will still be necessary, human performance in those areas can’t be matched by a machine. However, jobs involving mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting and back-office transaction processing can easily be wiped out by automation. A LinkedIn post focused on the report noted that some workers are already catching on to the need to boost the skills sets. Research by the networking platform found that fewer professionals are adding accounting and financial reporting to their profiles. Instead, employees are beefing up their online resumes with more soft skills like management, leadership and customer service.

How digital and artificial intelligence are changing work

The potential for digital platforms and AI to underpin and grow the world of work is unbounded. They already play an essential role in the development of all the four worlds we previously explored, matching skills to employer, capital to investor and consumer to supplier. This platform layer brings a digital value chain and commoditization and automation of the back office – but comes with warnings. While it can create a thriving marketplace, it can grow to take over the entire economic system. And with platform pervasiveness comes vulnerability to cyber-attacks or wide-scale manipulation. Closely linked to digital is data. How governments, organizations and individuals decide to share and use it is key to all our worlds – even the most human-centric. Here are the jobs that will be most affected by automation in developed countries:

  • Machine and building equipment operators
  • Dish washers in restaurants
  • Food preparation workers
  • Office staff like payroll managers and clerical workers
  • Waiters

Here are the jobs that will be least affected in developed economies:

  • Health workers, such as doctors, nurses, and childcare staff
  • Computer engineers
  • Construction workers
  • School teachers

A new report predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. The study, compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, says that advances in AI and robotics will have a drastic effect on everyday working lives, comparable to the shift away from agricultural societies during the Industrial Revolution.

In the US alone, between 39 and 73 million jobs stand to be automated making up around a third of the total workforce. But, the report also states that as in the past, technology will not be a purely destructive force. New jobs will be created; existing roles will be redefined; and workers will have the opportunity to switch careers. The challenge particular to this generation, say the authors, is managing the transition. Income inequality is likely to grow, possibly leading to political instability; and the individuals who need to retrain for new careers won’t be the young, but middle-aged professionals. As with previous studies on this topic, there’s much to be said for taking a skeptical view.

Economic forecasting is not an exact science, and McKinsey’s researchers are keen to stress that their predictions are just that. The figure of 800 million jobs lost worldwide, for example, is only the most extreme of possible scenarios, and the report also suggests a middle estimate of 400 million jobs. The report stresses that the effects of automation on work will differ from country to country. Developed economies like the US and Germany are likely to be hit hardest by the coming changes, as higher average wages incentivizes automation.

In America, the report predicts that employment in industries like health care will increase, as society copes with an aging population; while rote jobs that involve physical labor (machinist, cooks) or data processing (payroll clerks, data entry) are most at risk of automation. In developed economies like the US, automation is also likely to lead to increased inequality. High-paying creative and cognitive jobs will be at a premium, while the demand for middle and low-skill occupations will decline.

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