They’re already driving taxis, running hotels, and serving as disaster relief personnel in Japan, so of course it’s only a matter of time before robots take over the country altogether. And now, as per new findings from Nomura Research Institute (NRI), it looks like that time is fast approaching. According to the researchers’ predictions, up to 49 percent of Japanese jobs could be taken over by robots within the next two decades. And with Japan’s quickly aging population, this may not even be a bad thing for the country’s economy.
“Due to a shrinking population, labor shortages are predicted for Japan. We’re looking at the social repercussions of attempting to preserve the labor force by introducing AI and robots into it,” the researchers note in their recently published report. Previous work in the field has shown that a number of jobs could easily be completed by machines, and already, a number of countries have projected the rise of the robot in the employment market.
“We did the same kind of analysis in Japan that Professor Michael Osborne from Oxford University carried out in the U.K. and the U.S.,” Yumi Wakao, a researcher at NRI told Motherboard. Those projections are a bit lower, with estimates of a 35 percent takeover in the U.K., and 47 percent at home. This discrepancy, Wakao notes, is due to the fact that robots across the pond have already replaced quite a few jobs that are capable of automation.
Still, the researcher notes, current estimates are “only … hypothetical technical calculation[s],” that do not “take into account social factors.”
Of course, just because robots replace humans in jobs like data entry, car driving, or hotel reception, doesn’t mean that we’re fast approaching an era where we become couch potatoes with nothing to do. Rather, experts note, the ability of robots to perform more menial tasks will free up humans to take on more interesting jobs, like those that require creativity, compassion, and other human-specific qualities.
So you can thank them now or thank them later, but a robot “stealing” your job may be the best thing to happen to your career.