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04th March 2014

Nearly half of US jobs could be at risk of computerisation, Exeter Fellow’s research suggests

Research undertaken into the impacts of future technology by Exeter’s Official Fellow in Engineering Science, Dr Michael Osborne, and published by the Oxford Martin School suggests that nearly half of US jobs could be susceptible to computerisation over the next two decades.
The study, a collaboration between Dr Osborne and Dr Carl Benedikt Frey (Oxford Martin School) found that jobs in transportation, logistics, as well as office and administrative support, are at “high risk” of automation. Occupations within the service industry are also highly susceptible.
“We identified several key bottlenecks currently preventing occupations being automated,” says Dr Osborne. “As big data helps to overcome these obstacles, a great number of jobs will be put at risk.”
The study examined over 700 detailed occupation types, noting the types of tasks workers perform and the skills required. By weighting these factors, as well as the engineering obstacles currently preventing computerisation, the researchers assessed the degree to which these occupations may be automated in the coming decades.
“Our findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skilled workers will move to tasks that are not susceptible to computerisation — i.e., tasks that required creative and social intelligence,” the paper states. “For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”
While the analysis was based on detailed datasets relating to US occupations, the implications are likely to extend to employment in the UK and other developed countries.
There has been wide comment and discussion on Dr Osborne and Dr Frey’s research in the media, including in The Economist.
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