If You're Worried About A Robot Taking Your Job, You're Not Alone

Australians are concerned about the control robots will have over the world in the not-so-distant future, potentially leaving humans without jobs and little control. 

Research commissioned by think tank Thinque revealed more than half of people surveyed believe robots will have more control over the world than humans in just 20 years' time.

"I think humans have an innate fear of anybody or anything that will do something, faster, more reliably, cheaper, more efficiently," futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson said of the study.

"So I do think we have this huge concern that finally the day of robotic reckoning has come."

Of the more than 1000 people questioned, 45 percent said they believe robots are already taking control of jobs and other aspects of our lives, while nearly 30 percent think robots are being developed faster than humans can evolve.

The humanoid robot Pepper of the American company CloudMinds is seen shaking hands with a visitor. Image: Getty

It's hardly a newfound fear.

From China's AI newsreader gunning to replace our flesh-and-blood television anchors, to America's first fast food drive-thru operated by an artificial intelligence voice assistant, technological developments have introduced robotics into a wider range of industries than ever before.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents to the Thinque survey said they were most concerned about robots becoming advanced enough to mimic human capabilities -- with 28 percent believing that is already happening.

In October a painted portrait created using artificial intelligence sold for more than $500,000 last year, kicking off a series of sales for AI art at Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses.

Where technological advancements were once a threat to just physical roles -- factory workers, assembly lines, replacing pins you knocked over while ten-pin bowling -- they're now threatening cognitive skills as well, Sörman-Nilsson said.

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"In many ways, what we're afraid of is that now artificial intelligence is about to do what robots and machines have been doing to blue collar skills, to white collar skills," he said.

"This just beckons the question of what kind of work will be left for us humans to do in the future."

Science Fact Or Fiction?

There's a petty extensive catalogue of films, books and comics detailing how the rise of robotics and the artificially intelligent could potentially take a turn for the worse.

But how valid are concerns it will render us almost useless?

Sörman-Nilsson said while concerns people have are "extremely valid", what people should instead be focusing on is how they're preparing their own skill set to deal with the changing employment landscape.

READ MORE: Artificial Intelligence Has Replaced Drive-Thru Staff At This Fast Food Restuarant 

Technicians demonstrate the functionality of an industrial robot that uses adhesives to close holes in a car body. Image: Getty

"Rather than feeling scared about an unknown future, we really have to scenario-plan for which types of skills that AI  and robots are going to potentially displace, because they're not the skills that humans should be excelling at," he said.

"We have to ensure that we don't train our kids and ourselves to be semi-good at skills that robots and AI are going to be way superior at."

Researchers at Oxford University published a widely referenced study in 2013 outlining which roles were most likely to be taken over by computerisation.

Of the 700 occupations analysed, 12 were determined to have a 99 percent change of being automated in the future, including data entry keyers, library technicians, watch repairers and telemarketers.

At the other end of the spectrum, jobs listed with a 0.35 percent or less probability included mental health social workers, occupational therapists and audiologists.