Depending on how you want to look at it, robots will either become a huge problem or not much of a threat. According to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute, up to 800 million jobs may be lost to robots in the next few years. That is quite a high number, especially considering this will affect around one-third of the workforce of richer nations. On a global scale, the damage is “limited” to just one-fifth of all workers.

Robots and Automation are a Threat

Rest assured there will be plenty more studies regarding the effects of robots and automation on the global workforce in the coming years. There’s little question that a lot of jobs will be replaced by robots in one way or another. How all of this will play out in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen, though. After all, there will be countries and industries which are affected more than others.

According to the new study by the McKinsey Global Institute, the future isn’t looking all that bright. From research conducted across 46 countries and 800 occupations, it became evident there will be some major shakeups in the coming years. More specifically, the study indicates that around one-fifth of the global workforce will be affected by both robots and automation in general. 

It seems machine operators and food workers may be the two groups most impacted in this regard. After all, the food industry has been mainly automated for quite some time now. It would only take a few more changes to push it over the edge completely and reduce its human workforce to the absolute minimum in the next few years. As for machines, they will operate themselves and use AI to make their own decisions.

One point that stands out is how poorer countries will not necessarily have to deal with this threat. Because these nations can’t spare the resources to go all-in on automation, human workers will remain the main source of labor. It will be interesting to see if this means major corporations will move away from low-cost labor countries and switch to automation in their home markets. There is still a lot of research to be done before one can even determine which option may be most beneficial.

India, for example, is a country a lot of people will be keeping an eye on, as the nation isn’t too keen on automation just yet. The study found that around 9% of workers will be replaced by emerging technologies, which is a lot lower than what most people would have expected at this stage.

The switch to automation itself shouldn’t necessarily be considered a bad thing. After all, there are a lot of jobs performed by humans which are “beneath us”, so to speak. This includes mortgage brokers, accountants, back office staff, and the majority of pencil-pushers in general. Any industry where automation has become a big deal over the past few years will only see more of the same. However, robots can’t always replace humans either, which isn’t surprising whatsoever.