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The future has arrived and it is a robot!

The future has arrived and it is a robot!

At the beginning of November two of our partners, Paul Quain and Daniel Pollard, partners at GQ,  attended the Littler Global Europe Conference in Berlin speaking on panel sessions looking at future issues surrounding Big Data, Robotics, AI and the Automation in the workplace.

One of the themes which came out of the talks was the way in which we are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of change that technology is forcing on us. Some of the following points were noted:

  • The monitoring of data and the data analytics which companies can now carry out will create huge challenges around privacy, especially with the new privacy regulation by the European Union. Companies will be forced to address the “elephant in the room” around their privacy controls and procedures.
  • It is predicted that by 2018, 50% of business ethics violations will be related to data.
  • It is also widely predicted that by 2020, most privacy causes of action will be related to data.
  • A joint report by Oxford University and Deloitte published in September 2013 estimated that 47% of jobs currently existing in the US would be replaced by robots over the next 20 years. New jobs will be created with the need to manage the robots but these will not come anywhere near the number of jobs being replaced.
  • The effect on society would be huge and this amounted to a new industrial revolution
  • Robots will have an impact on the legal framework in each country as all adapt to a different type of work force. Laws will be needed to make it clear who is liable for robotic errors and some countries are considering legislation requiring companies to pay social security contributions for each robot which replaces human labour. There has even been of a universal basic income suggested.
  • In some countries the wording of laws around  collective redundancy may need to be adapted to take account of robots replacing human work.
  • Employees will need to be trained to work alongside robots
  • Whilst there will be huge resistance to change, there will also be opportunities for human activity to be more fulfilling and less mundane.

Whilst this may all seem a bit like science fiction, it is worth remembering that twenty-five years ago people did not access the internet or indeed send emails. Robots may become common place sooner than we think….!