These are the jobs that AI will steal

Robots aren’t replacing everyone, but a quarter of US jobs will be severely disrupted as artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of existing work, according to a new Brookings Institution report.

The report, published on Thursday, says roughly 36 million Americans hold jobs with “high exposure” to automation — meaning at least 70% of their tasks could soon be performed by machines using current technology. Among those most likely to be affected are cooks, waiters and others in food services; short-haul truck drivers; and clerical office workers.

“That population is going to need to upskill, reskill or change jobs fast,” said Mark Muro, lead author of the report.

Muro said the timeline for the changes could be “a few years or it could be two decades.” But it’s likely that automation will happen more swiftly during the next economic downturn. Businesses are typically eager to implement cost-cutting technology.

But with new advances in artificial intelligence, it’s not just industrial and warehouse robots that will alter the American workforce. Self-checkout kiosks and computerised hotel concierges will do their part.

The changes will hit hardest in smaller cities, especially those in the heartland and Rust Belt and in states like Indiana and Kentucky, according to the report by the Washington think tank. They will also disproportionately affect the younger workers who dominate food services and other industries at highest risk for automation.

Some restaurants have already shifted to self-ordering machines; a handful have experimented with robot-assisted kitchens .

Google this year is piloting the use of its digital voice assistant at hotel lobbies to instantly interpret conversations across a few dozen languages. Walmart and other retailers are preparing to open cashier-less stores powered by in-store sensors or cameras with facial recognition technology.

Many economists find that automation has an overall positive effect on the labour market. It can create economic growth, reduce prices and increase demand while also creating new jobs that make up for those that disappear. In future, the class of workers affected by automation could grow as machines become more intelligent

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