If you think your boss is a stiff now, just wait five years for AI to take over

If you think your boss is a stiff now, just wait five years
By Catey Hill, Marketwatch December 16, 2015 | 11:32am

Robots are after your boss’ job.

Managers spend much of their day working on tasks that robots will do better in the future, according to a survey released Wednesday by Accenture Strategy, the strategy arm of the global professional services company.

More than 8 in 10 managers say they spend a significant part of their day planning and coordinating work, 65% solving problems and related tasks, 52% monitoring and reporting performance and 45% analyzing and sharing information, according to the survey, which questioned 1,700 managers across 17 industries.

But in roughly five to 10 years, intelligent machines will likely be able to do many of these tasks more effectively than humans, says Bob Thomas, the managing director of Accenture Strategy. “We are entering a different kind of technological era,” he says — one in which robots play a much bigger role at work.

Already, robots do many jobs — often lower-level, manual tasks — better than humans, including stocking shelves and farming. “Advanced robots are gaining enhanced senses and dexterity, allowing them to perform a broader scope of manual tasks,” write the authors of the 2013 study from Oxford University entitled “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation.”

“Some types of jobs will go away, but others will be created,” says Thomas. The Oxford study notes that “most workers in transportation and logistics occupations, together with the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labor in production occupations, are at risk” and adds that a surprisingly high number of jobs in the service industry are at risk as well. And while some managers’ jobs are at risk (though many will simply shift to doing tasks like higher-order reasoning that robots are less well equipped to do, the Accenture study showed), lower skilled, low-wage workers are even more at risk, experts say.

What’s more, as they become faster, smarter and cheaper, we can expect robots to do more jobs than humans, even those in management, now do, experts say. In roughly the next two decades, robots might take nearly 50% of jobs currently in existence in the US, Oxford’s Future of Employment study, which examined 702 occupations, found. A report by the Bank of England revealed that 80 million US jobs are in danger of being taken over by automation.

Not surprisingly, many managers feel threatened by robots — managers in electronics and high tech are most concerned that robots could threaten their positions (50%), followed by banking managers (49%), managers in the airline sector (42%) and retail (41%), the Accenture data show– as do many workers.

But should they be worried? That depends on what their jobs are.

“Technology may be set to change jobs and wages more fundamentally than in the past,” says Andrew Haldane, the chief economist and executive directory of monetary analysis and statistics for the Bank of London. “Job displacement and creation may come thicker and faster than ever previously … and gaps between those with and without skills, or with and without jobs, may widen as never before.”


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