British Minister Says Robots Will Take Over White-Collar Jobs First

Wednesday, 09 July 2014 - 10:05AM
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 - 10:05AM
British Minister Says Robots Will Take Over White-Collar Jobs First

David Willetts, British Minister of University and Science, claims that "robots will take over middle-class professions" before manual labor positions. According to the Minister, tasks that require "quite high-level cognitive" skills will be easier to program effectively in the near future than the simpler tasks that rely on basic human function. 

 

credit: CHRISTOPHER PLEDGER/TELEGRAPH

  

"You kind of intuitively think that beating a grand master at chess must be a harder challenge, but in this world… giving a cup of tea to a little old lady is a bigger IT robotics challenge than doing chess," says Willetts. "So quite a lot of stuff that we think is really rather sophisticated cognitive work is also routine and can be replaced by systems." 

 

This vague "cognitive work" to which the Minister refers is the intellectual skill for professions such as lawyers, teachers, accountants, journalists, and salespeople. According to him, these robots would be capable of performing many mentally complex tasks, including "marking tests and even essays" in schools, vocational training in the medical profession through video game virtual realities, and publishing and processing financial updates for firms. 

 

South Korean students learn English from 'Engkey' the robot teacher at the Hagjeong Primary School in Daegu credit: AP

 

So what would this actually mean for the middle class of the world? It's hard to tell. But, for obvious reasons, the Minister's prediction is setting off red flags in many people's minds. According to the telegraph, "recent research has shown three in ten Britons believe that they will soon be replaced in their job by a robot." 

 

 

 

The Minister also claims to understand the implications that this shift would have on the global economy. He admits that these advances would "dramatically change the type of work we do," but he claims that this change is not inherently bad. He warns the audience not to "fall for the luddite fallacy" that unemployment would rise. 

  

And apparently, the Minister actually wants to see this revolution occur: he is pouring 52 million UK pounds into funding specialist skills training for science-based employers. 

 

What do you think? Are you afraid of being replaced by a robot? Are these changes worth funding, or should this trend be nipped in the bud before it destroys the professional world? Share your point of view below. 

Science
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics

Load Comments