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Robots Will Take Jobs, but Not as Fast as Some Fear, New Report Says


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Testing a manned, walking robot in Gunpo, South Korea,

The robots are coming, but the march of automation will displace jobs more gradually than some alarming forecasts suggest, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute.

Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The robots are coming, but the march of automation will displace jobs more gradually than some alarming forecasts suggest.

A measured pace is likely because what is technically possible is only one factor in determining how quickly new technology is adopted, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Other crucial ingredients include economics, labor markets, regulations and social attitudes.

The report, which was released Thursday, breaks jobs down by work tasks—more than 2,000 activities across 800 occupations, from stock clerk to company boss. The institute, the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, concludes that many tasks can be automated and that most jobs have activities ripe for automation. But the near-term impact, the report says, will be to transform work more than to eliminate jobs.

Globally, the McKinsey researchers calculated that 49% of time spent on work activities could be automated with “currently demonstrated technology” either already in the marketplace or being developed in labs. That, the report says, translates into $15.8 trillion in wages and the equivalent of 1.1 billion workers worldwide. But only 5% of jobs can be entirely automated.

 

From The New York Times
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