The Motley Fool

Quick Thought Of The Week: Robots

It is almost like something out of an Isaac Asimov novel….

…. According to UK-based research firm, Oxford Economics, the number of industrial robots is set to multiply 10-fold to 20 million by 2030. The robotics revolution, which has already seen a tripling in their use over the past two decades, could accelerate thanks to a massive leg-up from artificial intelligence.

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The good news is that productivity and growth could be boosted. That could be excellent for investors. The bad news is that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs could be lost. Some of those that could be worst hit include lower skilled workers.

Thing is, it has been coming. The writing has been on the wall.

Since the turn of the Millennium, some 1.7 million jobs have already been displaced by programmable machines. But as robots become more technologically advanced, the tasks that they can perform can only become more sophisticated.

So increasingly, more of the jobs that are currently performed by humans could be done more effectively by machines.

But industrial revolutions are nothing new. It started as far back as the 1700s when pioneering engineers found a way to convert steam into kinetic energy. It was only a question of time before some jobs would go – stagecoach drivers were gradually replaced by train drivers.

It must have been a worrying time for wagon drivers – not knowing when they or their horses would be put to pasture. The same goes for workers today. Who is brave enough to say that their job is 100% safe from robots?

The upshot is we need to be ready. We need to retrain or risk being redundant.

It is also important to be financially secure. You will never know when the job that you are doing could be replaced by a tin can full of chips.

In fact, the article you are reading now could one day be generated by an algorithm. My role could be redundant, too. No job will be safe from robots.

So, given what we know, it’s probably better to join in the robotic revolution than to fight it. Put another way, it could pay to be an investor than a worker.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore Director David Kuo doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.