Back in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that with technological change and improvements in productivity, we’d only be working 15 hours a week by now. But while working hours have declined by 26 percent, most of us still average 42.5 hours a week, according to Eurostat figures.
One of the things Keynes underestimated is the human desire to compete with our peers – a drive that makes most of us work more than we need to.
The pandemic has accelerated the move towards automation and artificial intelligence, especially for jobs with high physical proximity – from Amazon developing delivery drones to self-driving cabs. By 2050, 40-50 percent of current jobs will be lost to automation.
There are exceptions. Jobs that involve complex social interactions are beyond current robot skills: so teaching, social care, nursing and counselling are all likely to survive the AI revolution. As are jobs that rely on creativity. The same also goes for cleaning jobs, due to the multitude of different objects cleaners encounter and the variety of ways those objects need to be dealt with.
Interestingly, areas of the workplace traditionally dominated by women won’t be so easily adopted by AI.future, just differently. Women are still shouldering three-quarters of all unpaid care work and doing 40 percent more household chores according to the ONS. Robots are unlikely to assist in the ‘work’ of childrearing, preparing lunchboxes and doing the laundry.
Those whose work falls outside the caring/cleaning/creative realms will still work in the
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