Australia Needs to Embrace Automation to Survive

Automation needs to be utilised by Australia if we're to compete in the global economy.

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The automation of the working world is often viewed with a negative run-on effect – people lose their jobs, industries are completely disrupted and robots eventually take over.

Technological disruption has created new jobs – social media managers, for example.

A recent report refutes all this fear-mongering, however, noting that Australia would actually be better off if we embraced automation rather than shying away from it.

‘The Automation Advantage’, published last week by AlphaBeta and commissioned by Google Australia, argues that automation could be the key to ensuring Australia can compete in the global, technologically-advanced economy moving forward.

The report noted that technological disruption has always been a part of working life, stating ‘history shows that past waves of technological disruption have ultimately led to increased prosperity, productivity and employment.’

It also reminded those worried about automation that ‘technological change often drives workplace innovation’ – the rise of Facebook and Twitter led to the creation of ‘social media managers’, for example.

The report identified three key benefits that automation can bring to Australian workers: a reduction of workplace injuries, an increase in work satisfaction and an upturn in financial benefit.

With automation taking on more manual work in order to reduce injuries, it was found that the amount of sick days due to accidents involving physical work in Australia could be 11% lower by 2030, assuming that past automation trends continue.

In addition, they found that the monotonous, automatable tasks performed by typically low-skilled workers are the least satisfying tasks while also being among the worst paid. Automation taking over these tasks can improve happiness at work by over 60% by 2030.

The report argued that low-skilled workers would actually be happier and better paid if automation was increased.

The introduction of automation is actually seen as a boon for Australian workers, the report argues, as the careers that robots cannot take over – those requiring creative thinking, human logic and emotional intelligence – end up earning close to 20% more than automatable tasks anyway.

The report emphasised that ‘the rate of automation today is no higher than previous peaks over the last 50 years, but the industries impacted have changed’.

Automation is the future of work, and if we want to succeed, we need to embrace it wholeheartedly. The benefits are there, and for Australia to keep up with countries like the USA and the UK, automation is the way forward.