Workers underestimate ‘robotisation’ of jobs

New Zealander workers greatly underestimate the extent to which their roles will be replaced by robots, according to a survey undertaken by the Massey Business School and Auckland University of Technology.

Dr David Brougham from the Massey Business School and Professor Jarrod Haar from AUT surveyed 500 New Zealand employees earlier this year and say 80 percent of participants did not think their job could be automated. They say the results did not deviate significantly from data collected in 2015 and 2016, despite extensive media coverage of the issue over that time.

Brougham said: “There is an interesting cognitive bias going on when you look at the gap between the number of New Zealanders who are aware of the potential threat of automation and the number who think it will affect them personally.

"We found that half of the people we surveyed had seen media coverage of the issue and only seven percent said they think that technology will lead to an overall increase in the number of jobs. Yet only 20 percent felt that their own job would be affected.”

He added that 50 percent had seen smart technology, artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and algorithms covered in the media, but the majority remained unconcerned.

“Seventy one percent of our survey participants said they don’t discuss these issues with their work colleagues and 79 percent have not actively researched how technology might affect their job in the future.

“While the full automation of your job may be unlikely, several parts of the job might be, so it’s hard for employees to know how that will impact on their employment situation.”

He concluded: “The key message is that looking at the developing technology in your line of work as a potential competitor is going to become a factor when planning your career and considering future training opportunities.”   

Brougham will discuss his research findings at Massey University’s Big Issues in Business seminar series, ‘Robots vs Humans – the future of work’, which will take place in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North during June. 

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Tags workforceautomationemploymentrobotsroboticsalgorithmsartificial intelligenceAIsmart technologyAuckland University of Technologyautmassey universitycognitive biasMassey Business Schoolreplacement

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