The future of work: Will we work for robots?

Today I opened a seminar hosted by reed.co.uk, all about the future of work in a world of AI and robotics. The morning was packed full of thought-provoking presentations, including a talk from futurist Nick Price about the importance of future-driven thinking for business.

As part of the research for the event, we surveyed our audience on reed.co.uk to find out whether they’d prefer to work for a robot or their current boss. A quarter of respondents said they’d rather have a machine for a manager than their current human one!

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but with advances in AI it’s not so far-fetched that human managers could be replaced by robots in the near future. Developments in technology are rapidly changing the way that we work and the type of work that we do.

Over the course of the next decade, many of the jobs that we know now may cease to exist. But it’s not all doom and gloom – a huge number of new types of jobs will also become available to us as a result of new technology. It’s a very exciting time for businesses and for individuals.

Just for fun, we also asked our jobseekers which famous robot they’d most like to work for. We gave them a football team’s worth of fictional bots to choose from, and here’s how they ranked them as Robo-Bosses:

  1. Data (Star Trek)
  2. Optimus Prime (Transformers)
  3. Wall-E
  4. R2-D2 (Star Wars)
  5. The Terminator
  6. RoboCop
  7. K-9 (Doctor Who)
  8. Bender (Futurama)
  9. C-3PO (Star Wars)
  10. HAL 9000 (2001: Space Odyssey)
  11. Rosie (The Jetsons)

While it’s just a bit of light-hearted fun to weigh up the merits of Terminator over R2-D2 as a potential Robo-Boss, it is interesting to think about the types of robots we might one day work for.

We can be fairly confident that some of our managers will eventually be replaced by robots, but we still don’t know what sorts of robots will replace them. One thing is certain, these Robo-Bosses will only improve with time – the same can’t be said for humans!

So tell me… which Robo-Boss would you rather work for?