FILE - This Monday, Aug. 1, 2016 file photo shows the humanoid robot “Alter” on display at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. Understanding humor may be one of the last things that separates humans from ever smarter machines, computer scientists and linguists say. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Are robots coming for your jobs? This think tank says no

Artificial intelligence, robots, won’t necessarily displace workers

Although robots are coming, Canadians shouldn’t worry about them taking their jobs, according to the Fraser Institute.

In a series of essays released Tuesday, writers said that not only would robots take on new jobs that workers couldn’t imagine today, but that robots may fill in gaps left by retiring baby boomers.

“The growth of technology combined with a shrinking labour force may actually produce a shortage of qualified workers in Canada, rather than the widespread unemployment predicted by doomsayers,” said Fraser Institute senior fellow and essay author Livio Di Matteo, pointing to boomers hitting their mid-60s and looking at retirement.

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

In his essay, Stamford University associate economics professor Art Carden said there is little reason to believe technology will destroy people’s chances at work anymore than it has in the past.

“Industries and jobs come and go,” Carden said, pointing to the Industrial Revolution. “Almost everyone used to work on farms. Now, hardly anyone does.”

He said there is “some preliminary evidence” of lower pay and employment in sectors where robots compete directly, but no large-scale threat to the overall job market.

“Artificial intelligence has been replacing cognitive tasks without replacing the need for human work,” he said, such as the calculator, which allow people to do math faster, and hard drives and cloud storage that makes storing data easier than having to use notebooks or the brain.

“The search tools we use to access documents and ideas scattered across these storage media require types of artificial intelligence, too — and that creates opportunities for tech support and information technology consultants,” Carden said.

ALSO READ: Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’

This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Carden’s name.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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