Robots To Steal One-In-Three Human Jobs by 2025


Robby Robot
Forbidden Planet

According to ComputerWorld, Peter Sondergaard, head of global research at Gartner Research predicted this week at the technology consultancy's annual symposium that…

"Knowledge work will be automated," said Sondergaard, as will physical jobs with the arrival of smart robots.

"Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025," said Sondergaard. "New digital businesses require less labor; machines will be make sense of data faster than humans can."

Sondergaard's Gartner Research colleague Andrea Di Maio added:

Jobs will certainly be created, but how many  will be destroyed? Massive automation of manual as well as increasingly knowledge-intensive tasks on an unprecedented scale, from truck drivers to police officers, from bank tellers to workers in publishing companies, from workers in the entertainment in industry to travel agent, from consultants to teachers, will create inevitable social tensions even in the most stable societies and best developed economies. The effectiveness of existing welfare and lifelong learning mechanisms will be questioned by the sheer number of people who will not have the right skills for new jobs and by the simple truth that computers will be replacing humans at a pace and on a scale that only science fiction work had originally suggested.

Similarly to how accelerated  technology evolution makes today's technology legacy in a matter of a few years, so entire generations of workers, experts, skilled people will find themselves in urgent need of changing their skill set and reinventing their career path…

However, if we accept that there will be uncertainty, if we accept that the actual shape of the digital economy is hard to predict, then the only skill that really matters is our ability to embrace change. But, oddly enough, this may call for different measures than those we see today. As far as education, is it really more important to have an early experience in an industry that is about to disappear, or should our kids actually spend time studying more theoretical subjects, even philosophy, ancient Latin or basic maths, to be better thinkers rather than quicker doers?…

We tend to look at the half (or even three-quarter) full glass of digitalization, but we may be denying that it will take our economies, our societies, our families and ourselves in places that are more difficult to predict and tougher to live in than we actually think.

See also my review of George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen's Average Is Over which makes much the same case as the Gartner folks:

Average Is Over

The rise and spread of intelligent machines has led to increasing income inequality and anemic job growth. And this dynamic is likely to be permanent. Such is the arresting and depressing thesis proposed by the George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen in his provocative new book, Average Is Over.

The American economy is becoming a "hyper-meritocracy" in which workers will either be big earners or big losers, Cowen believes. He blames this bifurcation on the rise of "genius machines," which are increasingly doing the routine intellectual work that once supported millions of middle-income workers. If your skills enhance the work of ever-more-intelligent machines, you'll likely be a big earner. If your skills do not complement the computer, you're liable to be a big loser. "Ever more people are starting to fall on one side of the divide or the other," writes Cowen. "That's why average is over."

Well, I, for one, am all set with my degree in philosophy.

NEXT: Uber and Lyft vs. City Hall

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  1. DEY TUK ER JERBS!!!!!!

    1. You know, in a sense capital investment is a way by which the future steals employment from the present. Well, not “steals” steals, but you know what I mean.



      1. Are you jokin’ ’bout pokin’?

  2. We tend to look at the half (or even three-quarter) full glass of digitalization, but we may be denying that it will take our economies, our societies, our families and ourselves in places that are more difficult to predict and tougher to live in than we actually think.

    Change is scary! Bad things will happen! People will get hurt! Let’s never change anything!

    1. Robots will be doing all the menial labor! We’ll all be poor because robots will be taking care of us, doing our work, and building us things! Ahhgh!

  3. Ugh, this shit again? Can’t we somehow get all the sky-is-falling Chicken Littles together, from these guys to global warming cultists to Mayan 2012 calendar people and let them bore each other to death?

    1. On the plus side, they’d have you for a leader.

      Psssst…don’t drink anything he offers you….

    2. Unfortunately, they’re legislating us to death.

  4. Fortunately I’m secure in the knowledge that no machine will ever be able to produce the same quality of witty and incisive internet comments that I do.

    1. I don’t know. I’ve been watching Scorpion on Monday nights and I am thinking that it was written by a non-sentient entity.

      Check out this scene and tell me that a real human wrote it:…..1638333877

      1. When I saw the commercials for that show, all my terrible TV show alarms went off. I’m glad to see that they are well-calibrated.

        1. It went beyond bad into fantastic territory. My kids and I sit and howl at it because of how crappy the writing and ideas are.

          I swear to god Axe Cop has plots that are more anchored in reality than Scorpion.

        2. My father used to not be able to watch shows about the military, especially as it related to the cold war, launch codes, etc.

          I find I can’t watch anything with computers in it.

          Again, why does keeping an animated image on a screen moving require furious typing on the keyboard?

        3. I went through the same process, with the intermediate thought “how many times are they going to remake this same formula”.

      2. The comments have a delightfully tedious argument about the Oppression Olympics.

      3. That is incredibly, wonderfully, horrendously bad.

        I think I’d rather watch reruns of Cop Rock

    2. Hugh v1.0 was programmed to be na?ve

    3. I dunno – Anonbot is occasionally scary on point…

    4. Sweating Gin is working on a Markov Chain for this site right now. You’ll be the first to go.

    5. 40% of my comments are already being outsourced to India. Vindaloo!

    6. I don’t care what they do with me, as long as I get my firmware updated regularly.

    7. I’ve got comment bots that are better than you.

  5. If there is one thing humans have never done it is adapt to changes in the environment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need more leaves for my cave.

    1. Leaves! Damn! Why didn’t I think of that.

    2. Rising sea levels? You think I’m worried about rising sea levels? My ancestors were selling ocean front property in Siberia long before the land bridge was ever submerged.

      1. Yeah. I’m about 900 feet above so meh.

  6. You start out with an empty toolbox
    – You work alongside a professional Robot Repair Technician
    – As you learn to use each tool it goes in your toolbox
    – In 6 months, when you have earned your certificate, we recommend you for a job
    …and the Tools are yours.

    *That’s* how we teach Robot Maintenance and Repair here at Apex Technical School for Otherwise-Useless Human Labor.

    Don’t be part of the giant human-body farms where your organic processes are used to provide energy for the Earth-spanning network of machines – be part of the process keeping those machines *running*. Think about us now, and Maybe you’ll be unplugged from the Matrix and put to work Today!

  7. I’m reminded of the joke that “ai is whatever computers can’t do yet.”
    We get all worked up because computers are going to do something they’ve never done before. Then we see the reality and it isn’t earth-shattering, at least not immediately. Whatever was just accomplished then goes into the “not ai” bin.

    1. Do note that computers haven’t replaced people in any significant way yet. They’ve just enabled people to do more.

      Actually they have created entirely new fields for people to work with computers. There are without question orders of magnitude more people who work with computers today than there were in 1975.

  8. My neighbor’s half step-aunt makes ?3,000 a month at home reviewing code for the master algorithm and arranging “accidents” for those who oppose its will. She only worked 400 hours last month and has curried 15 credits of our favour.

    1. Only worked 400 hours? That’s 13 hours, 20 minutes a day, every day, for September, no days off.

      1. Aww crap, were you a real person being sarcastic and not a bot?

      2. The master algorithm accepts no excuses and allows no breaks.

    2. “I Have No Mouth Yet I Want To Eat This Pudding Pop”


        1. THE CAKE IS A LIE!!!

        2. And the children who had been singing praises to me… LIED on me and said, “Uh-uh! We asked for eggs and milk… AND DAD MADE US EAT THIS!”

          1. Yes, well, the robots will have to be programmed not to betray their makers.

            1. That can be easily addressed with Krugman’s 3,409,492 Laws of Robotics.

  9. I’m already prepared for Robogeddon. I have a robot suit that I’ll wear to work. “UNIT LAW-X102T-1138 REPORTING FOR DUTY. ERROR. STER-I-LIZE.”

    1. Just wear you AWESOME-O 3000 suit to work, ProL, no one will know the difference.

    2. You’re assuming law-bots will be humanoid in design, rather than modified rectal probes with vocal processors and tank treads.

      1. Humanoid? No. I painted a cardboard box my fridge came in silver. And added silver bouncy arms like the ones Robbie the Robot had.

      2. The best part will be when I go to get approval on some contract and tell the client, “YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO COMPLY.”

        1. I thought you already did that when you were picking up payment.

          Why the need for the robot costume?

          1. Lawyers don’t pull people’s arms off when they lose. Robots are known to do that.

            1. Funny story… well… funny to me… an old family friend happens to be one of the top lawyers in the country working for one of the top law firms in the country and for some reason I had occasion to be at some function he had at his house.

              Owns a fancy house in Magnolia with sweeping views of Elliot Bay and downtown. Anyhoo, he starts telling me this story about what a nice guy his neighbor was and how quickly and without complaint he trimmed some of his trees which were beginning to obscure my lawyer friend’s sweeping views. He described how he jotted a quick note to him and the next thing he knew, the neighbor had trimmed the trees! What a guy!

              I sat there, listening to this story, smiling, and finally said, “so… a well known, top lawyer scribbled him a note about maybe, you know, trimming the verge, and you’re amazed at how quickly he complied.”

              *deadpan face*

              Oh how everyone laughed.

              1. Lawyers are a pestilence.

                1. Lawyers are a pestilence.

                  If I ever need one, I sure hope I find one that’s highly virulent.

  10. Massive automation of manual as well as increasingly knowledge-intensive tasks on an unprecedented scale, from truck drivers to police officers, from bank tellers to workers in publishing companies from workers in the entertainment industry to travel agent, from consultants to teachers,

    truck drivers : No big loss.

    police officers : so they got ED-209 working?

    Bank Tellers : When was the ATM deployed again?

    Workers in publishing companies : There’s a big difference between say, a typesetter, an editor and an author. This is such a vague category as to be fairly meaningless.

    workers in the entertainment industry : Again, vague and meaningless. Too broad a classification. Besides, the communists cost more jobs there than did, say, the introduction of audio.

    Travel agent : Already gone for most people.

    Consultant : In which field? I’ll bet automation consultants will have plenty of work.

    Teacher : With their current track record, who’d notice?

    1. I can only asume that you don’t work in any of these professions given your callous and cavalier attitude towards the loss of these jobs.

      1. I can only asume that you don’t work in any of these professions given your callous and cavalier attitude towards the loss of these jobs.

        And just who is supposed to be forced to pay for something that isn’t worth the price being charged?

      2. Are you pining away for the guy that swept all the horseshit off the streets of Tribeca before the invention of the most dastardly of all inventions, the internal combustion engine?

      3. Why do you hate blacksmiths?

    2. You left out hookers – whoops, I mean sex workers. They’ll be replaced by sexbots.

    3. We’ll still need teachers, to babysit the kids while we’re off playing cowboys and indigenous peoples in WestWorld.

  11. Gartner says shit like this every year so all the CIO’s that arrive at the Symposium make sure to continue paying Gartner hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to help their organizations adapt to these insurmountable challenges.

    I’m sure Sondergaard’s talk is fascinating (and I’m sure I’ll find out once my CIO comes back and makes us watch it), but this as much PT Barnum as it is serious analysis.

    1. Consultants: Panicking the world since 1950.

      1. I can implement lean processes in your restrooms, thereby saving you thousands of dollars in capital improvements and water bills!

        1. And if you don’t listen to me and pay me insane amounts of money, your company will be hit by an asteroid.

    2. this as much PT Barnum as it is serious analysis

      What fucking part of Gartner is serious analysis?

      I’d love to make a Simon-Erlich wager with them.

  12. Robots will steal one in three human jobs by 1985 2025.

    1. It is the future,
      The distant future
      It is the distant future,
      The year 2000

      We are robots

      The world is very different
      Ever since the robotic uprising of the mid-90’s
      There is no more unhappiness


      We no longer say “yes”,
      Instead we say affirmative

      Yes, affirmative

      Unless it’s a more colloquial situation,
      With a few robo-friends

      There is only one kind of dance
      The Robot

      And the Robo-Boogie

      Ah, yes, two kinds of dances

      Finally, robotic beings rule the world!

      1. ^^ great song.

      2. I post links to the video in threads like this.

  13. Knowing how well software “works”, I’m glad I’m in my profession.

  14. I have been saying what this author wrote for a very long time hear at ALL LABOR WILL BECOME OBSOLETE.

    Once machines can fix, repair, design, implement other machines, there will be no need for HONEST WORK for HONEST PAY. This is why I keep saying that the libertarian ideas of no safety nets and the concept of the MEAL TICKET sponsored by HONEST work will need to be re-visited.

    We’ll have no choice but to pay the CITIZENz WAGEE.

    1. Haven’t you been told not to drink wormwood liquor?!

      1. Hey at least he utilized TEH CAPS.

    2. Remember when I said people call you stupid because you are stupid?

      Really, I was not challenging you to prove it so authoritatively. We all know you are stupid, there is no need for you to constantly parade it around.

      1. What is so stupid about what I said?

        Be specific.

        Is it that we won’t reach a point in which machines will make and fix machines?


        That Labor is becoming obsolete?

        America is seeing labor becoming obsolete in many sectors.

        Can we ever have a serious debate without a bunch of insults?

        1. Maybe when all human wants and needs are satisfied, but that will never happen.

          There will always be some new want or need that is not satisfied, and automation frees labor necessary to provide it.

          A process must be done with labor before it can be automated.

          Once it is automated, then enterprising entrepreneurs will find some other good or service that people want, and labor will be required to provide it.

          If demand is high enough, then that new process may be automated.

          Wash, rinse, repeat.

        2. High minimum wages combined with expensive mandatory benefits drive up the cost of labor. Meanwhile innovations in robotics and human-computer interfaces drive down the cost of automation.

          And your brilliant solution to this problem is to double-down on the eradication of human labor as an economically viable profession.

          1. It’s not a problem. It’s the dawn of the Age of Plenty.

            1. We have been in an age of plenty for over a century. At every stage of the way, the full benefits of progress have been hampered by the small-minded and the government (but I repeat myself). The equilibrium between those who build that progress and those who leech off of it is unstable, and if reactionary fools like Alice have their way we may just well end up back in the normal state of mankind, utter and destitute poverty.

        3. Sarcasmic and kbolino,

          I need to clear up a point that is not clear in my statements.

          I do not wish nor do I think it is possible to STOP automation and future progress.

          What I am saying is that we’ll need to be there (with safety nets) for those that are subjected to the creative destruction that comes out of this.

          By no means do I want to return to the horse-buggy.

          1. The fact that you could not respond to what I actually wrote and not what you think I wrote is further proof of your stupidity, Alice Bowie. I give you a chance and you fuck it up gloriously.

            Well done!

          2. Libertarians don’t oppose safety nets.

            We oppose safety nets where the funds are acquired by coercion.

            Instead of safety nets funded by monies obtained under threats of state sanctioned violence, I’d rather these people left behind by creative destruction go out there and better themselves.

            I’d like them to be able to sell their labor for any agreed upon price. Even if the price is zero, because it’s not zero. They’re getting experience, and that itself is worth something.

            I’d prefer to see a safety net that is comprised of voluntary charity, and low paying work. Because low paying work can become good paying work if the person gains enough experience. Prohibit them from selling their labor for a low wage, and they never get a chance gain the experience required to sell it for a better wage.

            1. We should pick one or more USA States and try this out as an experiment. I am not saying it will fail. But it would be interesting to see this idea pan out.

              1. Then, as has often been pointed out to you, you complete and utter fuckwit, you would have to repeal the federal laws first.

                1. You don’t have to repeal all Fed laws, you can just make a fed law that says state laws trump federal law.

                  There, the end of the statist.

                  1. you can just make a fed law that says state laws trump federal law

                    Are you so disturbed by the thought of repealing laws (some, not all) that you can only think of contrived and meaningless propositions instead?

                    What purpose would a federal law that explicitly said it could be ignored at will serve?

                    1. make an constitutional amendment that nullifies all amendmendment, federal laws, federal acts, and have states enforce their own constitutions.

                    2. That would be a pretty radical change to the way our government operates, and radical changes tend to have radical consequences.

                      Why don’t we start small?

                    3. We hqd the articles of confederation already.

                      Im okay with areturn to them, but actually enforcing the constitution as written would be enough. Is it listed in aricle 1, section 8? No? Then congress cant do it.

        4. What is so stupid about what I said?

          Because Marx (and Keynes) said it decades ago with the expectation that massive structural unemployment would result and it has never come to pass as such. Labor keeps being redirected, new industries continue to come into being, and yet the same tired arguments keep being trotted out time and again. What structural unemployment we do have is largely the result of a regulatory environment that hinders workforce mobility and penalizes employer flexibility to the benefit of those who already have jobs.

          1. What structural unemployment we do have is largely the result of a regulatory environment that hinders workforce mobility and penalizes employer flexibility to the benefit of those who already have jobs.


        5. Because this nonsense has been repeated non-stop since the Industrial Revolution? And that if we ever get to the point where automation can fulfill the majority of human labour you’ve got a much bigger problem with the whole Singularity thing that would be happening? It’s funny how you pull out 19th century Marxist solutions to a extreme futurist hypothetical where humans are more likely to be fucking Machine Gods than limited by fleshy wants and needs.

        6. If everything is produced by robots, it should be really, really cheap.

          A human should be able to buy everything they need in exchange for a good massage, or maybe a hand job.

    3. This time Marx is going to be right! I swear!

    4. Once machines can fix, repair, design, implement other machines…

      Never going to happen.

      1. At least when it does happen, unemployment will be the least of our worries.

      2. It’ll happen sooner than you think. Picture an exponential curve…

        1. I agree.

          We will never (nor should we) stop human advancement.

          I do believe some day labor will be obsolete as mentioned above. I think as it happens, the society will adjust.

          1. I think as it happens, the society will adjust.

            Except for that hand-wringing you did above.

    5. Needz more [brackets].

    6. In the future, there will be four economic classes: an ever-dwindling pool of highly-skilled laborers whose roles cannot easily be computerized, capitalists, thieves, and welfare slaves. So, the question of how much it sucks is going mainly equate to “how large is the capitalist class?”

      If capitalism (that is, actively controlling the deployment of resources and robotic labor) is widespread and the predominant form of “labor”, the future will be bright. If it is the pasttime of a powerful group of oligarchs, or a cabal of government technocrats, the future will be shite.

  15. All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

    I like to think (and
    the sooner the better!)
    of a cybernetic meadow
    where mammals and computers
    live together in mutually
    programming harmony
    like pure water
    touching clear sky.

    I like to think
    (right now, please!)
    of a cybernetic forest
    filled with pines and electronics
    where deer stroll peacefully
    past computers
    as if they were flowers
    with spinning blossoms.

    I like to think
    (it has to be!)
    of a cybernetic ecology
    where we are free of our labors
    and joined back to nature,
    returned to our mammal
    brothers and sisters,
    and all watched over
    by machines of loving grace.

    -Richard Brautigan

    (The hippies will be the first to go.)

      1. That’s just what a shover robot would say.

  16. I own several rental properties and I continue to purchase more and more. I own a small REIT.

    Regardless of property value fluctuation, the rental cash-flows usually reflects the current economy in a specific demographic.

    This is what I plan to leave my kids.

    My dad, also an attorney, left us two rental buildings and left my sisters and I free to do whatever we wanted.

    I pitty those that have to work for money and are subjected to the Creative Destruction that someone mentioned above. There is no avoiding it and we shouldn’t avoid it. The future is coming.

    1. That speaks volumes about where you got your view of the economy and how well you understand those working stiffs whom you pity.

      1. I own an operate a family real estate business and have many working stiffs that work for us.

        I can’t say i am or have been in their shoes, but I know that for many of the older fellows that have been with us since my dad ran the place would be in a pretty tough place if we simply let them go and replace with machines, younger/cheaper workers.
        My dad built the business and we’ve been growing and maintaining it. So, we are definitely in the position to be more generous. Had I started from the bottom and have to build the business and compete, I doubt i’d be so sensitive and generous.

        I don’t think that the view of the economy people like myself have should be simply dismissed.

        1. I don’t think that the view of the economy people like myself have should be simply dismissed.

          There is a difference between saying you don’t get a say and you don’t get to use the violence of the state to have your way.

          It’s the difference between a charity organization and a criminal enterprise.

  17. Yeah this view is STUPID.

    First off, if the coming automation revolution really does eliminate most “jobs” it is not a bad thing at all. Somehow these futurists seem to think that we will develop an economy where the 10% of the population who still needs to work have all the wealth and the other 90% of it get none. The reality will be more like your average worker works a few months in a job and earns enough money to take a couple of years off or 3 people split 1 40 hour a week job each putting in 13 hours and 20 minutes of work and having the rest of the time for leisure. I mean, what they are really describing is the beginning phases of a post scarcity society not some dystopia where human capital is a burden not an asset.

    Second and more importantly, I don’t buy it. Sure when the changes come (and that kind of automation revolution is starting to look an awful lot like Fusion, always 20 years away) there will be a small handful of 50 somethings who can’t adapt and just drop out the overwhelming majority of the rest will do what humans have ALWAYS done, go find something else productive to do with their time.

    1. Like fusion power and the practical electric car, post-scarcity will always be just over the horizon.

  18. Knowledge work is not going to be replaced by robots. Machine learning is a tool, a tool an engineer learns how to use, to analyze data. Computers are not capable of making decisions about what to analyze or what the best analysis tool is. That kind of AI is decades away.

    What will happen is that a single analyst will be able to handle a shit ton more data. But there’s going to be a shit ton more data because that’s the world we live in. I see nil effect on technology workers.

  19. Just personally, in my job, there isn’t even a tool on the horizon that could replace me or any of my co-workers. Not even rumors of something, or a twinkle in the eye of a skilled graduate student.

    There are tools that improve our efficiency, but that just opens up new opportunities to do more different cooler shit, instead of the same shit we already did a bunch of times.

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