Kiwi workers not worried about the robots coming for their jobs
Robots and artificial intelligence programs are taking over our jobs, but many Kiwis think it won't happen to us.
Massey University researcher David Brougham and Auckland University of Technology's Jarrod Haar surveyed 500 New Zealand workers this year and found that 80 per cent of participants did not think their job could be automated.
Brougham said that revealed an interesting gap in New Zealanders' thinking. "When you ask people [if a machine could do their job], they almost always say 'no', even checkout operators standing next to a self-checkout machine."
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Brougham said although the impact of technology on the future of work cannot really be known, there is no doubt many of today's jobs will either disappear or develop into something different.
The World Bank 2016 Development Report found 57 per cent of jobs in the OECD will be significantly affected by automation within the next 15 years.
That seems like an alarming figure, but since most jobs are a mix of routine tasks and others that require adaptability, they would likely still be done by humans.
"There's still likely to be net job losses, but it's not going to be apocalyptic," Brougham said.
He warned that people had to start considering robots and artificial intelligence programs as competitors and look into what was happening in their industry.
The robots were already popping up in surprising places, from driverless trucks to financial and legal advisers, he said.
Industrial Designer Rob Whitfield was surprised to find such a high proportion of jobs would be affected over the next couple of decades.
He said his job involved too much creative work for robots.
"It is scary what's happening with AI [artificial intelligence]... but it's amazing stuff, as long as it's used for good."
He was concerned automation could deepen the divide between rich and poor, particularly if money pooled in the hands of the few who develop or own the automated systems.
Although automation can lead to improved quality and lower costs, Whitfield was unconvinced the benefits would necessarily be passed on to consumers.