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Rise of AI and robots predicted to create more jobs than they replace, report proclaims

Robots, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) could create more new jobs than they displace, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.

Between now and 2022, the report predicts that 75 million jobs could be displaced globally by technology, but an additional 133 million roles could be created, leaving 58 million net new jobs.

The report follows much more gloomy predictions in recent years from the likes of the Bank of England’s chief economist and major think tanks that AI will have a detrimental effect on the jobs market.

While more physical jobs will continue to decline and AI will take hold of many office-work positions, technology will continue to create more new roles, such as drone piloting and remote patient health monitoring.

By 2025, more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines as opposed to 29 per cent today, the Future of Jobs 2018 report found.

While nearly 50 per cent of all companies expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation, almost 40 per cent expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise.

However, the report also warned that investment will be needed from businesses and governments to train people with new skills before it is too late.

“These net gains are not a foregone conclusion,” WEF chairman Klaus Schwab said.

“They entail difficult transitions for millions of workers and the need for proactive investment in developing a new surge of agile learners and skilled talent globally.”

The changes are already being felt in some sectors, with the likes of software engineering, user experience designers and data analysts on the up across western Europe between 2013 and 2017 while sales, journalism and admin work experienced a drop.

Businesses are also expected to expand their usage of contractors doing task-specialised work and come to more flexible arrangements with their employees by utilising, for example, remote working.

Data provided to the think tank by executives from more than 300 global companies suggest that machines will carry out an average of 42 per cent of tasks by 2022, compared with 29 per cent today. Consequently, humans will go from performing 71 per cent of total task hours to 58 per cent.

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