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Are Robots Going to Take All Our Jobs?

If the canon of science fiction novels and movies have taught us anything, it's that robots are helpful until they become more clever than we want. For many workers, that time may have arrived.

 

(Photo Credit: Dan Thornton/Flickr)

The impact computers, robots and machines are having on the job market is already in plain sight, as discussed in a recent 60 Minutes segment.

For example, there are fewer bank tellers because of ATMs, fewer airline ticket agents because of self check-in machines and fewer customer service jobs because of improved voice recognition software. Routine low and middle-skilled jobs are being eliminated for machines that can work 24/7, need no health benefits and never complain. In many ways, they are an employer's perfect employee.

Workers on the assembly line, mainly India and China, are at most risk of losing their jobs in the near future, as robots become increasingly capable of doing simple tasks. But the reliance on robots is only expected to increase in the future, leaving many out of work, MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson told 60 Minutes.

"Technology is always creating jobs. It's always destroying jobs. But right now the pace is accelerating. It's faster we think than ever before in history," Brynjolfsson said. "So as a consequence, we are not creating jobs at the same pace that we need to."

That pace doesn't show signs of slowing any time soon either. If computers continue to improve at its current rate, about double the power every 18 months, computers could be smarter than humans by 2040, explains Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.

Already, computers and robots are helping us to fight wars (drones) and buy and sell stocks. Do we need to worry they are going surpass us mere humans and rule the world?

"We're not super worried about robots becoming self aware, and challenging our authority. That part of science fiction, I think, is not very likely to happen." Brynjolfsson said.

Well, that's encouraging. Maybe.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you concerned what impact robots are having on the economy or do you think it's a good think companies can save money by using robots? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

 

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