Richard Baldwin: Robots will steal jobs, but not everyone’s
Robots are cheaper to employ than humans, don’t take holidays or maternity leave, and don’t go home at five o’clock, so should we all fear for our jobs? Not according to Professor of International Economics Richard Baldwin, co-director of the Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration and author of The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization.
“We’re going to see machine-learning trained, ‘white-collar’ robots taking office type jobs, while ‘steel-collar’ robots take mobile, service-sector jobs”, said Professor Baldwin during a recent Graduate Institute Facebook Live event. “We’ll see a blend of artificial intelligence and remote intelligence in these robots but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to taking humans completely out of the equation. Soft skills, empathy, dealing with creative or unknown situations, managing teams of people... robots won’t be able to do these things for a long time, nor will we want them to.”
Professor Baldwin highlights that in the next two years, new technologies will massively disrupt the service sector, which accounts for two-thirds of global jobs. Speaking on 2 November at The Future of Work, an event co-organised by the Graduate Institute and The Economist, he identified instant machine translation (such as Apple’s Siri) as the technology which would create most workplace disruption, thanks to its ability to break down language barriers.
LEARN MORE: Watch Richard Baldwin speaking at The Future of Work on how digital technologies will impact the service sector.