Robots could take over many jobs by 2025, leaving large numbers of humans in search of new jobs, according to a new study.
Jobs which could soon be taken over by robots include care of the elderly or disabled, as well as mundane tasks, such as walking dogs or driving. Robots able to perform menial tasks may soon be able to take over many chores around the house, freeing a lot of time for many people. However, repetitive jobs are common, and provide employment to millions of people.
While some job opportunities could be squeezed out by robots, the technology could open up new fields, as the rise of the internet has done over the last 20 years.
Elon University's Imagining the Internet group conducted the survey, in conjunction with the Pew Research Center. Investigators polled over 1,800 scholars and robot industry analysts to gauge their opinion of the effect of robots on the jobs market. The group was nearly evenly divided between those who believe that robots will create more jobs than they take away, and those who hold the opposite view.
New technologies have, historically, replaced some occupations while creating a larger job market, according to the report. However, robotics may be unique in pressing out skilled workers from their positions, the group warns.
"Automation has thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well. Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment - but far more may be displaced into lower-paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst," the report states.
Carried to the extreme, the report advises that the loss of unskilled jobs, as well as many white-collar positions, could result in a massive increase in the income gap between classes. A large increase in the number of people unable to obtain employment could lead to widespread civil unrest - an idea 48 percent of those surveyed said could be possible.
A small majority of those surveyed, 52 percent, say a prevalence of robots in the next decade will lead to lower unemployment, as people take positions designing, caring for and even recycling the mechanical and electronic devices.
"The effects will be different in different economies (which themselves may look different from today's political boundaries). Driven by revolutions in education and in technology, the very nature of work will have changed radically - but only in economies that have chosen to invest in education, technology, and related infrastructure," JP Rangaswami, chief scientist for Salesforce.com, stated in a press release.
Ironically, the coming robotic age could also give rise to a new form of handmade craftsmanship, as people strive to earn a living with uniquely human products and services like art and landscape design.