Is a robot taking over your job? More than half of British workers fear they may be replaced by technology
Millions of British workers fear that they could lose their job to a robot at some stage in the future.
Taxi drivers, factory workers and even those working in shops think that the march of technology will eventually leave them on the scrapheap, a nationwide business law consultancy has found.
The Protecting.co.uk health and safety and employment law company says that even people in highly-trained, highly-skilled roles think that their days are numbered as human ingenuity creates machines that suit virtually every job.
“In fact, just about the only people who don’t fear for their future are business owners or managers,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “And that’s mainly because they think they’ll one day be managing a completely mechanised workforce, like some sort of evil overlord.”
Protecting.co.uk asked 2300 workers across all kinds of industries and professions, and found the majority feared that their job could be reduced to a computerised process within the next decade.
Some 76% said they thought their job could be done by a robot
56% said they feared their job could be mechanised within the next decade
18% said at least some of their work was already carried out by a machine
Only 24% said that they thought their job was “machine proof” and that they could never be replaced
Those raw figures only tell part of the story, Protecting.co.uk says. The real tale comes in the personal opinions of people who think – rightly or wrongly – that their livelihoods are at risk from our new robot masters.
Ahmad, who’s a taxi driver said: “I’ve seen these driverless cars in America. Just hook them up to a sat-nav and I’m out of a job. Then what?”
Lewis is a journalist at a leading national publication: “We’ve already got machine translation and computers writing copy for major newspapers and news agencies. As an industry, I say we’re pretty much doomed. In fact, I know at least one publication where the horoscopes haven’t been touched by human hand for years.”
A police sergeant, who asked not to be identified said that the human element was important in his job, but: “There’s still a role to play for Robocop in policing. Document checks take up an awful lot of our time, self-service desks with computerised systems would take a lot of pressure off our desk staff.”
Julianne, who works as a shop assistant says: “You can see the way it’s going with self-service checkouts. All you need is a robot filling up the shelves and that’s the end for us shop workers, isn’t it?”
Civil servant John said: “They’d probably find a way of replacing us all with machines. The way our senior management treats us, it can only be a matter of time before I’m replaced by a robot with a rubber stamp saying ‘Rejected’ on the end of a mechanical arm.”
Shop manager Dennis told us: “They can’t get rid of the chiefs, though. We’ll still need the human dimension somewhere or the whole industry will descend into chaos.”
Some companies could see the benefit of automation taking over work that would otherwise be too repetitive, or too unpleasant for humans. “Employing” robots would make sense these businesses say:
Commercial waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk told Protecting.co.uk that robot workers could become a reality over key parts of the industry. “We’ve already got tech-driven sorting processes that can detect metals on a moving belt,” a spokesperson said, “It’s only a matter of time before collection becomes at least part automated. Self-driving bin lorries, anyone?”
Automation has been a reality in many aspects of manufacturing for several decades, and while there were inevitable job losses, workers found themselves in other roles such as CNC operations and quality control.
Protecting.co.uk says that while the latest giant step in the robotisation of society brings uncertainty to the workforce, it doesn’t mean that jobs will be lost on a wholesale basis.
“Think of it this way,” says Mark Hall, “most workplaces still have a staffed canteen where you can get a meal or a cup of tea, even though vending machines are a reality.