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Robots will take half of all human jobs in near future, say leading scientists

The globe has entered a "second machine age" that will see more than half of the world's jobs occupied by robots in the near future, according to scientists working at Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), Oxford University and Sussex University.

"Before the industrial revolution, it was pretty boring from an economist's point of view, but since the evolution of machines during this time, societies have become more efficient and wealthier," said Erik Brynjolfsson, director at MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

"We are now in the second machine age where robots take on mental, as well as physical work, which does encroach on a vast number of jobs," he added, speaking via a robot at the event.

"Robots now substitute jobs, not just complement them from previous times."

Michael Osborne, the associate professor in machine learning at Oxford University, backed Brynjolfsson's comments, arguing that it was "entirely credible" to see half of global jobs going to machines in the near future.

"Whether we talk about the changes in innovation or the relationship between robots affecting society, it all ones down to investment," said the RM Phillips professor in the economics of innovation, science policy research unit at Sussex University.

"China, for instance, is investing $1.7tn in new generation technology."

The global robotics industry has seen unprecedented growth over the last year, with giants like Google acquiring robotics firms like the remarkable Boston Dynamics back in December, and also snapping up an AI company, DeepMind, to go with all that recently bought robotics expertise.

It was announced this week that robots are set to be used in decommissioned nuclear sites and abandoned coal mines around the UK in order to test their ability to work autonomously, as Britain looks to become the world leader in robotics.