Skip to main content

CSIRO outlines the future of work as robotics and AI take hold

A new report from CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation) is predicting which jobs and industries will be the most affected by the rise and implementation of advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and drones in twenty years time.

Michaelia Cash, Australia's employment minister, presented the report on Friday at the Australian Computer Society's conference. The report illustrated the ways in which certain jobs will become automated and how technological change will benefit others while creating a number of new jobs and opportunities for those willing to re-train.

CSIRO's report places a great deal of focus on six mega-trends that will impact the workforce of tomorrow. A tremendous increase in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed coupled with a rise in the ability and quality of automated systems will allow robots and robotic systems to accomplish many tasks much faster and safer than their human counterparts. This in turn will raise the complexity of the jobs workers are doing and many jobs will require a higher level of education and training even for entry level positions.

Another trend predicted in the report is a possible rise in self-employment and freelance work. Peer to peer platforms such as Upwork, Kaggle, Innoventive and have low barriers to entry and give their users the opportunity to take advantage of their free time as a way to earn additional income.

Entrepreneurial skills will also be more highly sought after. The founders of small business as well as employees who work within large organisations will need to be able to work independently and bring fresh ideas to the table to remain relevant within a future where advanced technologies have replaced a great number of unskilled jobs.

CSIRO also believes that there will be an increase in jobs within service industries especially in education and healthcare. As people interact with fewer and fewer humans on a daily basis, social interaction skills and emotional intelligence will gain an increased importance.

There is a silver lining to CSIRO's report though and there will be a variety of new jobs created as a result of automation and the increased use of robotics and AI. These new machines will need humans to guide them and ensure that they are functioning properly and performing their tasks efficiently. This will create a variety of new jobs such as controlled vehicle operators and online chaperons. Many of these jobs will allow employees to work off-site and possibly from within their homes.

The future of humanity's workforce is set to change drastically as automation, robotics and AI work their way into a number of industries they have previously been excluded from.

However, if individuals, companies and governments prepare themselves accordingly they may be able to thrive in a future where humans and advanced technologies work alongside each other.

Image Credit: Sergey Niven / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.