“Robots to steal 15million of your jobs” holla the headlines; “middle classes will be 'hollowed out' by new technology.” It really is the stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? Industry press warns of the “march of robots”: a vast wasteland where well-meaning workers once took centre stage; overthrown by the robots that got far too big for their boots.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we’d awoken in the middle of a low budget disaster movie: mass hysteria around job losses; Brexit an apparent certainty; Donald Trump a reality…and now AI taking over the world. It’s not a reality we’re used to; or particularly comfortable with, for that matter.

But what exactly is AI? And why is it such a threat?

AI simply stands for ‘Artificial Intelligence’, and it already has a pretty big presence in most workplaces. The thing is, it’s set to have an even bigger share of the jobs market in the not so distant future. As technology becomes more advanced, so too does the range of tasks that robots can accomplish. So where manufacturing and other ‘low skill’ jobs were once decimated by machines that could do it faster, cheaper and often better, today’s professions are under similar fire. In fact, in this increasingly digital age, it seems that no job is safe.

“Accountants will find that software has replaced them, and that software neither miscalculates nor leaves the risk of a government audit to chance. Interpreters will sit idle, because anybody in any language can communicate across the globe, in any language, and in real-time. Marketeers will be slammed by programmatic buying software that eliminates the judgment for which they were once valued, much as is already happening with stockbrokers and traders. The list is endless. It impacts job categories once considered safe. No more. The hard truth is: many thousands of people will find their job position deleted, or their skillsets replicated by a computer at lower cost.”

Job losses: the panic pandemic

According to worrying new data from job site Adzuna, the professional driving sector faces the disappearance of 29,137 advertised jobs; while “receptionists, accountants, labourers and waiters round up the most at-risk professions, as software evolution changes employment trends in these areas.”

But for Dhaval Joshi, Economist at BCA Research, it’s not low-paid jobs that are at risk. Instead of cleaners, gardeners, carers, bar staff or cooks, he believes the onset of AI spells Armageddon for well-educated, well-paid professionals in the service sector:

“Machines find it hard to replicate the movements of humans in everyday tasks…Seen in this light, the looming threat is obvious. The first army of machines wiped out well-paid jobs in manufacturing; the second army is about to wipe out well-paid jobs in the service sector. In many cases, the people who will be surplus to requirements will have spent many years in school and university building up their skills."

Technology was designed to assist; to boost productivity; to make our lives easier. But is it friend or foe? Will we see our country descend into joblessness – where education is rendered useless and qualifications obsolete? Or are things perhaps a little more hopeful in reality?

Humans and robots: a new harmony

We wanted to understand more about the role of robots in the workplace of the future – and how this will affect the millions of people we work with all over the country. So we did what any self-respecting thought-leader would do: commissioned our own research.

From this research it’s clear that the world of work is changing – undeniably so. There will be job losses, but there will also be some incredible opportunities for creative minds; for entrepreneurs; for free-thinkers. Because, while robots can replicate our actions, they can’t think like we do.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing our insight with you on this fascinating subject – examining the steps that employers will need to take to engage a workforce that runs on intellectual capitalism and exploring how the next generation will need to prepare for this brave new world.

So watch this space: exciting things are coming.