Emerging Technologies

Could you answer to a robot boss?

A robot is seen at science and technology commission of the Chamber of Deputies during a demonstration of technological innovation at the Chilean Congress in Valparaiso, Chile  October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido - RC135DF908D0

A new survey finds 82% of workers think robot managers are better than human managers at certain tasks. Image: REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

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Emerging Technologies

Have you ever commiserated with your colleagues that your boss acts like an automaton?

This soon might be more than just a figure of speech – and some employees don't necessarily think that would be a bad thing.

By 2030, up to 800 million workers around the world could be replaced by machines. The fear of rampaging robots isn’t just restricted to jobs. Leaders in emerging technology, such as Elon Musk, have suggested artificial intelligence (AI) is “a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization.”

But a new survey shows some workers have much friendlier views toward AI. Oracle and Future Workplace found 82% of workers believe robot managers are better at certain tasks – such as maintaining work schedules and providing unbiased information – than their human counterparts.

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And almost two-thirds (64%) of workers worldwide say they would trust a robot more than their human manager. In China and India, that figure rises to almost 90%.

Robots are trusted by employees with highly organized tasks, such as workflow management.
Almost two-thirds of workers worldwide trust a robot manager more than a human manager. Image: Oracle/Future Workplace

The use of robotics in Asia is growing rapidly. Sales of industrial robots in India jumped by 39% in a year, while China is aiming to become one of the world’s most automated nations by 2020.

Artificial intelligence is boosting productivity

The implementation of AI technology, including robots, is expected to add as much as $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Automating routine tasks and administration will free employees up to focus on more complex work, while product development will become more agile as machines learn rapidly about what customers want.

The research recognizes that robots can bring complementary skills to the workplace. More than half of those surveyed by Oracle/Future Workplace say they're excited about having robot co-workers. Millennials are particularly enthusiastic.

There is growing enthusiasm for human-robot work partnerships.
There is growing enthusiasm for human-robot work partnerships. Image: International Federation of Robotics
There’s room for humans and machines

Our workplaces are changing – and not necessarily for the worse. A World Economic Forum report on the future of work suggests that while 75 million jobs may be lost to automation by 2022, another 133 million additional new roles will be created.

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Those new roles – as well as stable occupations such as human resources specialists and university lecturers – are likely to play on our creativity and ability to empathize with colleagues.

Respondents to the AI at Work study said human bosses were still better at understanding their feelings, coaching, and creating a supportive and motivating work climate.

“AI is redefining not only the relationship between worker and manager, but also the role of a manager in an AI-driven workplace,” says Dan Schawbel, Research Director at Future Workplace.

“Managers will remain relevant in the future if they focus on being human and using their soft skills, while leaving the technical skills and routine tasks to robots.”

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Related topics:
Emerging TechnologiesJobs and the Future of WorkFourth Industrial Revolution
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