How Robots Change the World
What automation really means for jobs and productivity
The robotics revolution is rapidly accelerating, as fast-paced technological advances in automation, engineering, energy storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning converge. The far-reaching results will transform the capabilities of robots and their ability to take over tasks once carried out by humans.
Already, the number of robots in use worldwide multiplied three-fold over the past two decades, to 2.25 million. Trends suggest the global stock of robots will multiply even faster in the next 20 years, reaching as many as 20 million by 2030, with 14 million in China alone. The implications are immense, and the emerging challenges for policy-makers are equally daunting in scale.
The rise of the robots will boost productivity and economic growth. And it will lead to the creation of new jobs in yet-to-exist industries. But existing business models in many sectors will be seriously disrupted and millions of existing jobs will be lost. We estimate up to 20 million manufacturing jobs are set to be lost to robots by 2030.
The effects of these job losses will vary greatly across countries and regions, with a disproportionate toll on lower-skilled workers and on poorer local economies. In lower-skilled regions, we find that robots lead to almost twice as many manufacturing job losses. In many places, the impact will aggravate social and economic stress in times when political polarisation is a worrying trend.
At Oxford Economics, our mission is to help our clients better understand an ever-more complex and fast-changing world economy. With the world on the cusp of this new industrial revolution, we are pleased to share the findings of our extensive research study into these profound economic shifts with everyone interested in the shape of things to come.
That is why we brought together a team of our economists, econometricians, modellers and technology experts from across our worldwide network of over 250 analysts to conduct an extensive research study to analyse the robotics phenomenon.
Our economic consulting and thought leadership teams are world leaders in quantitative economic analysis and original, evidence-based research, working with clients around the globe and across sectors to build models, forecast markets, run extensive surveys, and evaluate interventions using state-of-the art techniques.
Lead consultants on this project were:
Director of Economic Consulting, AsiaEmail
Technology Practice Lead & Deputy Director, Thought LeadershipEmail