Is everyone else going to get fired, if a robot comes along?

Science-fiction fans have known Man to be threatened with extinction by machines since Terminator had arrived in German movie theaters in 1985. But even non-fiction-afficionados are concerned with increased digitalization and automatization, as many deem their jobs being threatened. How valid are their fears?

Digitalization, disruption, big data and artificial intelligence. The list of buzzwords is infinite. Their common denominator is “economy 4.0“ – a term describing the digital economy of the future. But like with any emerging new terms, there rarely is a valid definition and everyone has a different concept of their actual meaning.

Digitalization and automatization

Our first blog has the purpose of shedding some light on the matter. We are going to explore the question whether ditigalization and automatization will supersede Man in the work-world.

Are 50% of our jobs going to be eliminated?

Numerous studies have been made regarding the subject, with various results. Beginning of 2017 McKinsey published a report, stating that current technology is capable of replacing 50% of the paid jobs worldwide with robots. What sounds alarming at first glance becomes very harmless upon close inspection. For only 5% of all jobs could actually be executed by machines in their entirety.

Studies with limited validity

The differentiation by activity and profession is essential, as it reveals the danger of automatization being much lower than anticipated. Scientists from the institute for employment market- and occupational research have looked into the matter. Their studies showed 15% of all German employees having jobs where 70% of their tasks could be accomplished on an automated basis. While the number seems a bit higher there is not a single job, which could be done on a 100% automated basis.

Relatively low risk of automatization

What does all of the above tell us? The risk of man being superseded by machines does exist, but it is by far not as grave as publicly perceived. And how does this translate to us? Rather than sudden revolution there will be continuous evolution. On a short- and medium-term basis no jobs will be eliminated. Instead, specific tasks within certain professions will be automated, thus leading Man into new activities within his given job.