Robots fear for a third of workers - and they're unsure if bosses will sort it

Robot 'Sophia' has been granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEARLY a third of workers in Northern Ireland - more than in Britain - are worried about robots 'disrupting' their jobs in the next two years and aren't sure if their bosses are doing enough to manage the change.

In a year in which one robot (Sophia) was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, and IBM produced another with the power to debate rational arguments, accreditation body Investors in People quizzed 1,000 workers about their perceptions and attitudes towards artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential impacts on the workplace.

And it found that 30 per cent of employees are worried automation will impact them compared to the national figure of 27 per cent.

Some 40 per cent of workers in Northern Ireland think they would be retrained by their employer if AI impacted their role while 30 per cent feel their organisation communicates well when new AI is introduced.

Artificial intelligence is defined as the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human input, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and rational decision-making.

Investors in People chief executive Paul Devoy said: “Our first 'Artificial Intelligence at Work: Perceptions & Attitudes' report has revealed unique insights into how workers in Northern Ireland feel about AI in the workplace.

"Unsurprisingly, there are channels of concern across the workforce in Northern Ireland, and the fact that nearly a third of workers here are worried that AI will disrupt their role within the next two years is a clear signal to employers to manage change effectively.

"It is clear that communication is vital in both keeping employees up to date and assuring them that they are valued members of the team, regardless of automation.”

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