The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation sounded alarm bells for many technologists and US workers, fearful these technological advancements would steal jobs.
Soon after, we saw a period of correcting that assumption, with new information reassuring workers that humans would work with robots, and not be replaced by them.
The reality will likely be somewhere in between this dystopia and utopia, according to a report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.
The report uses government and private data to develop both backward- and forward-looking analyses of the impacts on automation over the years 1980 to 2016, and 2016 to 2030 — across about 800 occupations.
While automation and AI will affect tasks for virtually every job in the future, as IBM’s Ginni Rometty has posited, the impacts on workers will vary greatly, the report found.
Only 25 per cent of US jobs are highly susceptible to automation, meaning that more than 70 per cent of their current tasks are at risk of being replaced by a robot.
However, this figure represents 36 million jobs, including positions in food preparation, production, office and administrative support, and transportation.
“That population is going to need to upskill, reskill or change jobs fast,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings and lead author of the report, told CBS News.
The timeline for the changes could be “a few years or it could be two decades,” he added.
Another 36 per cent of US workers (52 million) will experience medium exposure to automation, while 39 per cent (57 million workers) will experience low exposure, according to the report.
The most secure jobs include a broad set of positions, ranging from creative professional and technical roles with high educational requirements to low-paying personal care and domestic service work, the report found.
All of these jobs are characterised by non-routine activities, or the need for social and emotional intelligence, it added.
In the near future, automation will impact low-paying roles first, the report found.
The average automation potential for occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree is just 24 per cent, while that for jobs that don’t require the degree is 55 per cent.
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