A humanoid robot mimics human movements. Photo: Xinhua News Agency

Amid fears of mass job losses, a new report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), shows that South Korea has the highest average density of robots in the manufacturing industry at 710 per 10,000 employees, while the world average is 85 per 10,000 employees.

According to a survey by ZipRecruiters in March 2019, one fifth of job seekers fear they will lose their jobs because of AI. Consulting firm Mckinsey & Company previously reported that the demand for workers would increase as economies grow, but up to one third of jobs could be displaced by automation by 2030.

“I think It’s wrong that humans are losing jobs. Some important jobs are not easy to be replaced by robots,” said Professor Kazuhiro Kosuge of the Department of Robotics at Tohoku University, Japan, in an interview with Asia Times.

Kosuge is optimistic about human jobs prospects and cited examples from his research. He said: “Japan is an ageing society and we don’t have enough workers who can take care of the elderly. Humans are very skillful and the human brain is excellent.”

“In all fields, we need robots,” said Kosuge. But he added that automotive companies are suffering from labor shortages and there are still many tasks in the industry which can only be handled by a human.

“Agriculture, which is also labor-intensive, requires a lot of robots. Climate change is causing a lot of issues. In order to grow plants and have more food, we need automated systems, which I think is a growing area,” he said.

Although there are more advanced robots in the workplace, Kosuge says the challenges facing robotics may be solved by AI.

“At this moment, in order to use automated production lines, we need to program and customize everything. Robots are just a piece of a machine or device. The challenge is we need to reinvent industrial robots so robots can execute the given tasks automatically. I think AI has the potential to change systems. Instead of programming, AI system can learn how the human performs tasks,” said Kosuge.

This article was written by Huang Wanyi in Chinese on ATimesCN.com. Huang also wrote the English version.

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