Half of All U.S. Jobs Could be Taken Over by Computers

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Robot chef (AP Photo)

Advances in technology and artificial intelligence could make it possible for employers to replace nearly half of the American workforce with computers in the coming decades.


A study by Oxford University’s Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne says 47% of all U.S. employees are in professions that are vulnerable to being taken over by robots or computers as high-tech advances continue.


After examining more than 700 job listings, Frey and Osborne concluded that computers today could replace many people working in transportation, administrative support and other jobs. Given current technology, the jobs that are most vulnerable to computer takeover are ones that pay the least.


But it may not be long before workers handling “non-routine cognitive tasks” could lose their jobs as well.


“While computerization has been historically confined to routine tasks involving explicit rule-based activities, algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labor in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks,” the study authors wrote.


Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, told Singularity Hub that the study shows it is not a given that people will be replaced by computers, just because the technology affords this option. Such a move will also depend on economic and other factors before businesses decided whether automation is a good idea for their operations.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Could be Done by Computers, Study Says (by Cameron Scott, Singularity Hub)

The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation? (by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne) (pdf)


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