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Workers Out, Robots In?

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You probably like some of your colleagues, and can’t even stand to look at others. But imagine if some of your colleagues were robots. Would that be better or worse? One suspects that that will depend upon whom is replaced.

For the time being, robots represent a threat to only a handful of workers. According to a recently released study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, fewer than five percent of all occupations can be fully replaced by the technology we have today. The study determined, however, that 60 percent of all occupations are associated with about 30 percent of tasks that could be automated. Half of today’s work tasks could be automated by 2055, give or take 20 years.

Many people view robots as a threat to job security. But there are some positive aspects as well. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the McKinsey authors estimate that automation could eventually lead to additional productivity growth of roughly one percent annually for 20 major global economies. In order for that to happen, workers will need to augment their skills so that they can work together with emerging robotic technology.  

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.