Rise of the robots – is this the end of the workplace as we know it?

News Article

A new survey has predicted that around one third of all graduate jobs could eventually be replaced by either robots or software.

The survey, by the International Bar Association, also warns that legal frameworks regulating employment and safety are becoming rapidly outdated and believes the rise in the use of artificial intelligence and robotics could mean governments will one day need to put in place legislation for quotas of human workers.

The 120-page report, which looks at the legal ramifications of rapid technological change, has been produced by a specialist team of employment lawyers from the International Bar Association, which acts as a global forum for the legal profession.

The report’s lead author, Gerlind Wisskirchen, vice-chair of the IBA’s global employment institute, said: “What is new about the present revolution is the alacrity with which change is occurring, and the broadness of impact being brought about by AI and robotics.

“Jobs at all levels in society presently undertaken by humans are at risk of being reassigned to robots or AI, and the legislation once in place to protect the rights of human workers may be no longer fit for purpose, in some cases … New labour and employment legislation is urgently needed to keep pace with increased automation.”

Among the professions which the study believes are most likely to disappear in the future are accountants, court clerks and ‘desk officers at fiscal authorities’.

Even lawyers could one day find themselves on the employment scrap heap. The report states: “An intelligent algorithm went through the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions and found patterns in the text. Having learned from these cases, the algorithm was able to predict the outcome of other cases with 79% accuracy.

Lara Murray, An Associate Solicitor and employment law expert, said: “Whilst this study’s predictions are still some way off in the future and most of us will be retired by the time such radical changes take effect, it does illustrate that the workplace as we know it is constantly evolving. Practices such as home or e-working, which just two decades would have been largely impractical, are increasingly becoming the norm for many companies.

“As the workplace evolves, so employment contracts and employee handbooks need to be regularly updated to keep pace.”

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