A new international poll finds that 63% of workers don't believe their jobs will ever be replaced by automation (i.e., computers, robots), while an additional 10% think it will take over a decade for automation to replace them. This despite a 2013 Oxford study that argues almost half (47%) of today's jobs in the U.S. could be automated in the next two decades. 

Monster asked visitors to their career site the question: "When do you think automation (i.e., computers, robots) will be able to do your entire job?" and received over 3,800 responses.  International findings included:

  • 12% answered "computers/robots are already able to do my entire job" 
  • 7% answered "within the next 5 years" 
  • 8% answered "in the next 5 to 10 years" 
  • 10% answered "over 10 years from now" 
  • 63% answered "I don't think automation will ever be able to do my entire job"

German respondents are by far the most wary of job automation, Indian workers are the most confident in their future job security, while U.S. respondents are also fairly skeptical about the mechanization of their jobs. 

What lies ahead

"Though computers and robots are replacing some jobs, there are certain things they cannot replace," said Joanie Courtney, SVP of Market Development at Monster. "Emotional intelligence and soft skills are essential in today's economy, and furthermore- crucial to the development of future technologies and careers. As certain fields become outmoded, just as many have in the past, it's important to focus on building sectors that open up entire new professions  Additionally, as the Oxford study advises, workers who fear losing their jobs to automation should work on strengthening their creative and social skills to safeguard their necessity in the workforce."

The Oxford study Courtney cites was authored by Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, the James Martin Research Fellow with the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, and colleague Michael Osborne.

They attempted to estimate the impact machine learning will have on dozens of U.S. occupations, classifying them as possible - or impossible - to computerize.

“Our findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skilled workers will move to tasks that are not susceptible to computerization, i.e., tasks that require creative and social intelligence."

The Frey-Osborne paper concludes like this.

"Our findings imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will relocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization - tasks requiring creativity and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, they will have to acquire creative and social skills."

Facts & Fallacy

TempWorks and Aida Creative founder Gregg Dourgarian says in this post the notion that innovation is causing net job loss is an old - and inaccurate - story. 

"It's a tale that has enjoyed a thousand lives and dates back at least to 19th century France where 'saboteurs' (from the word, 'sabot' - shoe) threw their shoes into machinery to break it and prevent their jobs from being automated out of existence," writes Dourgarian. "Certainly, innovation does hit some jobs...But as a rule, history has shown innovation (as measured by productivity improvements) causes no net job loss."

Andrew Ng is one of the world's foremost experts on machine learning. He is an Associate Professor at Stanford; Chief Scientist of Baidu; and Chairman and Co-Founder of Coursera. 

In 2011 he led the development of Stanford University’s main MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform and also taught an online Machine Learning class that was offered to over 100,000 students, leading to the founding of Coursera. 

He has been working with the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab to see if they can someday build machines as "intelligent" as humans.

“There will always be work for people who can synthesize information, think critically, and be flexible in how they act in different situations,” said Ng, in this Forbes piece. However, he also acknowledges, “the jobs of yesterday won’t be the same as the jobs of tomorrow.”

Tags: TempWorks, Monster, Robots, Job automation, Oxford study, Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, Michael Osbourne, Aida Creative