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May 31, 2016

Nearly half of Brits think their job will be replaced by robots by 2066

News: Younger generations more aware of the impact of automation in the workplace.

By Joao Lima

A large sample of the British population is conscious of the impact of the introduction of robots, with 42% believing they could be replaced by robots in the next 50 years.

A survey of 2,000 UK respondents polled by OpenText, has also found that one quarter of the population thinks that robots could replace them within the next ten years.

With the rapid development of new technologies and their introduction into working environments, 7% of those surveyed said they think their job could be replaced by a robot as soon as 2017 or 2018.

Those aged 25 to 34 represent the majority (9%) of Brits that think a robot could replace them within two years. This is followed by 18-24-year-olds (6.4%), 45-54-year-olds (6.1%), and 35-44-year-olds (5.9%).

Overall, the younger generation of workers were found to be most likely to believe their jobs could be replaced by robot technology.

One in five (19%) 18-24-year-olds said they sometimes or frequently worry about the prospect of being replaced, compared to nearly three quarters (73%) of 45-54 year olds that never worry about it.

OpenText’s research highlights that older generations may not fear this disruption "given their nearing retirement".

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Yet, 25% of those aged 45 to 54 said they believe robots could replace them in the next decade. 35-44-year-olds are the ones that least believe in this trend, with only 20.3% thinking that by 2026 robots will have taken over their jobs.

Mark Barrenchea, CEO of OpenText, said: "As many as 25 to 40 million jobs globally will disappear as a direct result of extreme automation and extreme connectivity, with the greatest losses occurring in white-collar office and administrative roles.

"We should not, however, fear this disruption. M2M communications will enable machines to process data and make decisions based on this data as we move toward more intelligent, cognitive systems. In many cases, the intelligence these systems deliver will be more accurate, immediate and safer than humanly capable."

Barrenchea also said that the economic impact of digital is vast and that businesses which use the Internet tend to grow more quickly, export two times as much as those that do not, and create more than twice as many jobs.

He said: "Despite these statistics, many companies are off to a poor start on the journey toward digital transformation. While organisations are taking advantage of digital technologies, many economies remain digitally immature. This means that the ability to unlock the value of digital is far from being realised."

OpenText’s survey follows similar reports released this year. In January, the World Economic Forum (WEF) revealed in Davos that by 2020, as many as five million jobs in 15 major developed economies including the UK, could be replaced by robots, automation and AI.

The "Future of Jobs" report, shows that as many as 7.1 million works could be made redundant due to digital disruption, yet, this would be counterbalanced with the creation of 2.1 million new jobs.

In February, Professor Moshe Vardi, of Rice University, US, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, that robots could make unemployment rates skyrocket to as much as 50% in the future.

Some of the jobs expected to be most impacted include pharmacists, prison guards, boning chicken workers, bartending, lawyers, drivers, sales assistants, soldiers, journalists, and so on.

A recent example of robots replacing workers happened last week, when Apple and Samsung’s Chinese electronic supplier Foxconn reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots, according to the South China Morning Post.

Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, told the paper that "more companies are likely to follow suit", with as many as 600 employers in the region planning to execute a similar strategy.

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