Until recently, most discussions about robotics, artificial intelligence and, lately, drones seemed to center around factory or other blue-collar occupations. Now, however, the technology revolution appears to be having ripple effects in traditionally white collar fields as diverse as medicine and journalism.
Among more than 1,700 managers surveyed for the Accenture study, high numbers of managers in varying industries expressed fears about losing their jobs to intelligent machines, including: technology (50% of respondents) banking (49%), airlines (42%) and retail (41%).
Comparisons are being made to the more-than 3 million manufacturing-sector jobs (according to the Economic Policy Institute) lost primarily to globalization between 2001 and 2013. Concurrently, nearly equal percentages of middle and upper managers overall who responded to the survey feel that intelligent machines will make their work more effective and interesting.
Some historians and economists offer reminders that anxiety over technological advancements has occurred many times in American history, most notably during the Industrial Revolution and continuing through the 19th and 20th centuries. Still, it’s one thing to watch video of robots welding automobile parts, and quite another to be offered help by a robotic sales assistant in a retail establishment, as is taking place in chains like Best Buy and Orchard Supply Hardware.