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'More than half of human jobs will be taken by robots', expert warns

A scientist has warned of 50% global unemployment because of robots. Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

More than half of the human race could be unemployed by 2045 as job vacancies are filled by machines, a scientist has predicted.

Computer expert Professor Moshe Vardi has predicted that machines will be able to do most roles leading to a global economy with greater than 50% unemployment.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in a presentation entitled Smart Robots And Their Impact On Society, Mr Vardi said the implications of a robot dominated future will be 'humanity's greatest challenge ever'.

We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task.

I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?

A typical answer is that if machines will do all our work, we will be free to pursue leisure activities.

I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. I believe that work is essential to human well-being.

– Computer expert Professor Moshe Vardi

Professor Vardi argued that the pace of progress in artificial intelligence was increasing, even as the same technology was eliminating growing numbers of middle-class "white collar" jobs and driving up income inequality.

He added: "Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of 'in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread'. We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge."