Expert opinion is divided on whether increasing use of robots will be good or bad for the human workforce in coming years, a poll indicates.
Technology experts polled by the Pew Research Center were almost evenly split between 48 percent saying robots would displace a significant number of workers and 52 percent saying they believe automation will create as many jobs as might be lost by 2025.
However, some experts said, new jobs created by increasing use of robots would likely be lower paying, less secure positions.
Jobs that will still require the human touch will be the most secure, says Judith Donath of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
"Live, human salespeople, nurses, doctors, actors will be symbols of luxury, the silk of human interaction as opposed to the polyester of simulated human contact," she says.
Most of the survey respondents were in agreement that wide segments of daily life would feel the impact of robots and automation by 2025, particularly areas such as manufacturing, transportation and healthcare.
Many said they felt our education system was doing a poor job of preparing today's young people for tomorrow's job environment.
Some survey respondents criticized it for emphasizing task memorization over creativity, promoting a "Henry Ford education for a Mark Zuckerberg economy," said Aaron Smith, senior researcher with the Pew Research Center's Internet Project.
Those who were optimistic about an increasingly automated future cited history, noting technology in the past has been an overall creator of jobs, although robots aiding human will bring significant changes to human endeavor.
"Driven by revolutions in education and in technology, the very nature of work will have changed radically," says J.P. Rangaswami, chief scientist at Salesforce.com.
Robots and technology will make choosing a secure career more perilous in the future, some experts said, as finding a career path not destined for eventual automation could be difficult.
If joblessness due to automation becomes widespread, says Stowe Boyd, an analyst for Gigaom Research on the future of work, humanity may be faced with essential questions about the purpose of life.
"The fundamental question lurking behind all of this is 'what are people for?'" he says.
The Pew survey gathered responses from experts including futurists, researchers, technology developers, business leaders and writers on their opinions of how far artificial intelligence and robotics might advance by 2025 and their impact on the job market in the intervening years.