What impact will automation and the resulting loss of jobs have on innovation?

It is never easy to predict the future. However, it can be said with some degree of certainty is that automation and artificial intelligence are here to stay. Automation will increasingly reshape the working world in the coming years, and it has already been felt in some industries.

A recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that AI and automation had the potential to boost the global GDP by $15 trillion from 2030. Smart automation and robotics will, therefore, bring many economic benefits, but at what cost to human workers and their innovation and flair?

PwC believes almost a third (30%) of all jobs could be at potential risk of automation by the mid-2030s. Machines have been displacing human labour for more than a century already. The Industrial Revolution saw assembly lines transform car manufacturing output, for example. However, automation and AI have the potential to displace far more job roles than car production positions.

Recently, PokerStars Casino ranked the jobs market in terms of those at most risk of being replaced by automation. Those at highest risk of automation tend to involve roles where finger or manual dexterity is required, or people are required to work in awkward positions in small, cramped workspaces. The most ‘at-risk’ jobs included bank cashiers, telemarketers, bookkeepers, restaurant chefs, and jewellers.

There is no doubt that, if automation trends continue, the workplace of tomorrow will appear drastically different to what we see today. However, we shouldn’t be afraid of automation. If anything, automation will help to usher in a new wave of human innovation and creativity. Automation and AI have the potential to replace manual jobs, freeing up time for people to focus on the creative and original aspects of their roles.

Those job roles with the lowest risk of being affected by automation, according to PokerStars Casino’s research, include childcare workers, veterinarians, air traffic controllers, and chief executives. That’s because so many of those roles require impeccable people skills, communication skills, flair, or the ability to think on your feet and make the right decisions.

It is hoped that automation won’t lead to mass income inequality and unemployment and will actually foster new jobs and a chance for creative, forward-thinking types to enjoy greater headspace to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible. Research and development (R&D) could become an integral part of an employee’s role while allowing automation and robotics to operate in the background and keep things ticking over.

Governments will also be encouraged to offer training of new specialist skills to ensure professionals’ employability. This is what McKinsey describes as the ‘mass redeployment of labour’, training people to become more adaptable to enable them to fulfil roles where the task changes due to automation.

Put simply, while many will look upon this latest Industrial Revolution with caution, we should not fear automation. We should embrace its qualities and innovate to offset the disruption caused by intelligent machines.

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