3.8 Million Aussies Fear Their Job Being Stolen By A Robot

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Within five years, do you think your job will be made redundant by a robot? If you answered yes, you are in the 16 per cent of Aussies that fear your role will be stolen by our robot overlords.

But what is the risk, really?

Thesurvey conducted by AirTasker and research firm Pureprofile also found that 71 per cent of the population believe the rise of the machines will replace more jobs than they create.

This is at odds with Australian Bureau of Statistics Data ABS from 2006 to 2016, which shows job growth coinciding with technology advancements. This is backed up by the fact that around 10 per cent of Australians are now actively taking part in the "sharing economy" (services like Uber and Airtasker)- a number that has doubled in the last year.

"There seems to be some fear in Australia around machines replacing jobs, and this is the first study which quantifies it," Airtasker CEO Tim Fung said.

"There's no doubt that digital disruption is displacing some jobs, but Airtasker's experience is that technology is absolutely creating new industries and jobs that we haven't seen before."

Fung says there's some work to be done to increase awareness of the new job opportunities and industries being created through technology platforms, including the sharing economy, and that we should also be doing more to measure the new types of jobs being created as technology fundamentally changes the way we work.

Other interesting faces revealed by the study include:

  • Around 40 per cent of Australians see human interaction to be the main factor that will prevent more roles from being automated
  • Flexibility and pay remain the most important aspects of a job for all Australian workers. For three years, "flexibility of work" has beat out "predictability of work" as the most appealing aspect of modern work.
  • Those aged between 25 and 34 are the most concerned that their job will be made obsolete by automation within the next five years. However the same age group is also the most hopeful that machines will create new industries and more jobs than they replace.
  • Of all industries, those working in education are the most optimistic that machines will create more jobs than they replace.
  • In the three years of the study, more Australians than ever before (87.8 per cent) are looking for more opportunities to earn extra income in 2017. This figure is up 7.9 per cent from 2016's Future of Work study.
  • Up to 85 per cent of those surveyed working in hospitality or construction say they will leverage the sharing economy to earn extra income in 2017.

But the robots. Are they a real threat? In developing countries, for sure.

A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows the increased use of robots threatens millions of jobs in developing countries. It undermines the advantage of low wages and facilitates the "reshoring" of industries back to industrialised countries.

The solution? Build your own robots, the report says.

"The increased use of robots in developed countries risks eroding the traditional labor-cost advantage of developing countries," the policy brief says.

The report advises developing countries to tax robots and to prevent the rising inequality - caused by loss of low-skilled jobs - through social transfers. Much of the debate on the economic impacts of robots remains speculative, it says.

"Disruptive technologies always bring a mix of benefits and risks," the report says, noting that by embracing the digital revolution, developing countries could use robots to open up new opportunities.

In another little fact fact contained in the report, each year since 2013 China has bought more industrial robots than any other country. By the end of 2016, it is likely to overtake Japan as the world's biggest operator of industrial robots.

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