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Will Robots Will Take Over 47 Percent of American Jobs in Next 20 Years?

recent study by Oxford University warns that 47 percent of American jobs may be at risk of being taken over by robots in the next 20 years. The shift, ushered in by advances in technology, will impact not only manufacturing sector and blue-collar workers but many service and administrative jobs as well.

According to the Economist, “Until now the jobs most vulnerable to machines were those that involved routine, repetitive tasks. But thanks to the exponential rise in processing power and the ubiquity of digitised information (“big data”), computers are increasingly able to perform complicated tasks more cheaply and effectively than people.”

As a result, even jobs like accountants and doctors may be at risk as computers are capable of detecting illness or accounting errors at a rate far faster, and with more accuracy, then their human counterparts.

Already, the impact of the digital revolution has been felt in the American and world economies as unemployment soars and wage disparity is rising at alarming rates.

“The share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today,” the Economist reports. “Unemployment is at alarming levels in much of the rich world, and not just for cyclical reasons. In 2000, 65% of working-age Americans were in work; since then the proportion has fallen, during good years as well as bad, to the current level of 59%.”

With robots taking over a wider range of jobs formerly held by people, the Economist report further predicts social upheaval in the decades to come as displaced workers struggle to find their footing in a world where the rich keep getting richer.  “Anger about rising inequality is bound to grow, but politicians will find it hard to address the problem,” the report says.

Despite the challenges, however, the Economist’s report suggests that like in the Industrial Revolution, the difficult years of transition will give way to prosperity.

“Innovation, the elixir of progress, has always cost people their jobs,” the report suggests, adding that despite the growing pains, innovation also “creates new and better ones, as a more productive society becomes richer and its wealthier inhabitants demand more goods and services.

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About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.