Robo Sapiens- Future of the Work

  • IASbaba
  • June 24, 2021
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  • GS-3: Economy, development and challenges
  • GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT, computers, robotics

Robo Sapiens- Future of the Work

Context: A recent study by McKinsey flags that ultimately it is activities rather than jobs that are being automated. $2tn in wages or 45% of work activities in the US could already be automated with existing technologies

Evolution of robots in present times

  • Pandemic accelerated adoption of robots: Covid has hastened the adoption of technologies such as AI, chatbots, robot process automation (RPA) in white collar roles and industrial robots in blue collar jobs—all of which could displace 2 billion jobs by 2030
  • Rapid pace of AI development: A recent survey of AI researchers places a 50% probability on all human tasks being automated in 45 years where there is a 50:50 likelihood of full AI (human level AI, full breadth of human capabilities) by 2040-50E and a 90% possibility by 2075E.
  • Increased Productivity of economy: Robots can function for 24 hours per day and this represents a significant saving of up to 10:1 vs. human labour.

Concerns with emergence of robots/automation: 

  • Premium on Creative Skills: There will be increased demand for jobs within occupational groups that require social intelligence, creativity and complex problem solving as opposed to repetitive, low dexterity skills.
  • Job Losses:  Up to 47% of US jobs could be at risk over the next 20 years from computerisation. And in Emerging Markets, this figure could reach 85%.
  • Impact on India IT Sector jobs: India-based IT outsourcers, who spearheaded the growth post 1991 reforms, appear to be planning for a 3 million/30% reduction in ‘low-skilled’ roles globally by 2022 because of Robot Process Automation (RPA) upskilling. This represents $100 bn in reduced salary costs.
  • Workers disputes: The nature of the work for human are undergoing changes for instance recent decade saw rise of gig jobs rather than 9 t 5 employment. Emergence of robots is also bound to change nature of human jobs which might give rise to regulatory disputes around sick/overtime pay, insurance, worker’s rights, etc
  • Global disconnect between labour & Technology: This disconnect is due to the 20th century education practices dating back to the Victorian age which have not kept up with the rapidly changing 21st century workplace
  • Reskilling Burden on Governments: Around 100 million Europeans may need to acquire new skills this decade to transition to new jobs. One area of retraining could be from fossil to renewables where in the US, it could cost just $180mn to retrain 90,000 coal workers to work in solar. 


Lifelong learning, corporate training and development, vocational education, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) will also be critical tools to future-proofing employment prospects.

Connecting the dots:

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