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Robots are expected to replace half of Japan’s workforce by 2035

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A world where robots serve most of our daily needs might no longer be only a fantasy in comic books.

In a new report published earlier this month, Nomura Research Institute (NRI) an IT consulting firm in Japan, predicted robots may take over 50% of all jobs in the country within the next twenty years.

The report stated that previously, a 2013 study conducted by Michael Osborne, an associate professor in Machine Learning at Oxford University, found that 35% of jobs in the United Kingdom and 47% of jobs in the United States may become computerised in the future.

He and his team looked at more than 700 types of jobs and suggested that labour in production occupations, logistics and transportation occupations, as well as administrative support could become computerised.

“We did the same kind of analysis in Japan that Professor Osborne carried out in the UK and the US. We found that up to 49 % of jobs in Japan could be replaced by computer systems,” Yumi Wakao, a researcher at NRI, told Motherboard in a phone interview.

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She explained that Japan’s possibility to automate jobs was higher than in the UK, because many data-inputting jobs done by machines in Japan were still being done by humans in the UK.

According to Wakao, the new research showed that robots could perform jobs which involve more repetitive tasks, allowing humans to pursue jobs that robots would have a hard time doing. These include jobs which involve analysing abstract thoughts, creativity, empathy, negotiation, and communication.

The main jobs that are up for grabs for robots are taxi drivers, clerical data-inputting style jobs, security guards and receptionists. These, the researchers suggested, require little creativity.

Japan’s efforts to increase robotic workers come as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned he would cut funding for liberal arts courses. To improve the technology industry,  Abe even advocated a ‘robot revolution’.

Japan is already trialling automating some of these jobs. In July, Henn-na Hotel which features robotic employees at the front desk opened.

Although it is in inevitable that an increasing number of robots are entering the workforce,  NRI stated that before a robotic worker ‘army’ can be created, some improvements in  infrastructure need to be done first.

Image: Shutterstock

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