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New report predicts the future of automation


A new report by the multinational professional service network, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has identified three waves in which automation will grow in the coming years. The waves are; the algorithm wave; the augmentation wave, and autonomy wave.

The report estimates that the first wave will dominate up until the early 2020s and the biggest changes will be seen in the financial services. By the mid-2030s up to 30 percent of current jobs could be replaced by automation with the transport, manufacturing and retail sectors particularly affected.

The research analyzed the tasks and skills involved in the jobs of over 200,000 workers across 29 countries. John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, commented that robotics and related technologies should contribute to the economy and also generate enough new jobs to broadly offset the potential job losses associated with automation. But he cautioned that there will be challenges to many workers to adapt to changes through enhancing their skills and retraining for new careers in some cases. “Governments, businesses, trade unions and educational providers will all have a role to play in helping people through this transition,” stated Mr. Hawksworth.

Algorithm wave - to early 2020s

The algorithm wave is already well underway and involves automating structured data analysis and simple digital tasks, such as credit scoring. PwC finds financial, professional and technical services, and information and communications sectors are likely to be the most affected at around 6-8 percent. Women could be more exposed than men at this stage due to their higher representation in clerical tasks in the more affected sectors.

Augmentation wave - to late 2020s

The augmentation wave is focused on automation of repeatable tasks and exchanging information, as well as further developments of aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehicles. PwC estimates the share of potential jobs affected could rise to up to 20% by the end of the 2020s, as the use of AI systems becomes much more widespread and robotics technologies advance and mature.

Autonomy wave - by mid-2030s

In the final wave, PwC predicts that AI will be able to analyze data from multiple sources, make decisions and take physical actions with little or no human input. The share of jobs that could be impacted by automation is estimated to rise to 30 percent by the mid-2030s, as autonomous robots and driverless vehicles roll out more widely across the economy.

However, PwC predicts that AI and other related new technologies will also boost productivity, income and wealth. As this additional income and wealth is spent or invested, it will generate increased demand for human labor in less automatable sectors. PwC’s economic modelling suggests that this job creation effect will broadly offset the potential job losses associated with automation in the long run.

One thing is certain—the demand on the automation industry will only grow in coming years making the marketplace even more competitive. To streamline services and give your customers more, getPlus from NOS Microsystems.