Where the word automation increasingly penetrates individuals’ vocabulary, the fear of it follows soon after. Recent worldwide research reports estimate a task replacement rate in excess of 50% in the current workforce. While these research reports appear drastic to an outside view, it is important to consider the parameters and categorization of such and separate the technical from the practical. Current estimates for complete automation of jobs globally is limited to 5%. In other words, while a majority of jobs will witness a reformation in the workplace, the commonly depicted dystopian overhaul is not anticipated.
Despite limited reform in this new environment where AI will increase productivity and economic growth, millions of people in slowing industries might still be required to switch occupations or upgrade skills. Automation will have limited impact on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions – areas where machines continue to struggle matching human performance for now. Research therefore suggests that the next decade will experience a profound demand opportunity among creatives, technology professionals, teachers, caregivers, builders and managers.
A multitude of economic factors, trend and expectations lead to a fortuitous outlook by economists. First, global consumption is estimated to grow by $23 trillion between 2015 and 2030. A majority of this growth is due to the consuming classes in emerging economies. While the emerging markets most definitely will capture some of that value, the effects will also be felt by the world’s biggest exporters. Second, by 2030 there will be over 300 million more people aged 65+ years than in 2014. This demographic change will result in a spending patterns shift with increased concentration on healthcare and personal services. Third, a potential that pay-for services will substitute for currently unpaid and primarily domestic work. This marketization of previously unpaid work is already prevalent in advanced economies and likely to continue. These trends along with expected increased investment in infrastructure and renewable energy put much potential in growth opportunities for the world of automation.
Keith Knutsson of Integrale Advisors commented, “the idea that machines will create this dystopian society has been as old as society itself. In the past, doubters have proven wrong and technological advancement has
created growth for society at every level.”
Ultimately the technical feasibility of automation remains to be seen.
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