With Foxconn replacing 60,000 workers in China and Nike looking to relocate production to automated factories in Mexico, half the total jobs in parts of Asia could be at risk, warns the ILO
In the public mind, one of the most pressing concerns around AI is the prospect of mass automation; of robots cutting a swathe through the jobs market. And it’s not without foundation. As software gets ever more sophisticated, machines will be able to take on an ever-wider range of functions.
The entrepreneur Elon Musk is among those warning of the potential consequences. “Robots will do everything better than us … They will take your jobs government will have to pay your wage.”
Depending on the speed of AI rollout, the consultancy McKinsey claims that as many as 700 million jobs could go by 2030. PwC suggests that 30% of those in the UK could be automated by around the same time, compared to 38% in the US and 21% in Japan.
Some of the hardest-hit could be developing countries that have recently industrialised and enjoyed a boom thanks to low-cost labour. Research by Oxford University economists concluded that no fewer than 77% of Chinese jobs were at risk. Foxconn, for example, which manufactures components for major brands, including Apple, has recently replaced around 60,000 Chinese workers with robots.
Just because it is technically feasible to replace a human worker with a...