We are walking down the strip in Las Vegas in the year 2035.
The lights are glaringly flashing, music is pounding your ears, the usual nine Elvis look-alikes try to pose with you for a few dollars. A few robots are crisscrossing between the legs of passersby, offering ticket services, information and to be their guide. Self-driving vehicles bring gamblers from casino to casino. A robot group performs a break dance, and you can compete against Robo-MJ in basketball.
Vegas is still Vegas, so nothing has really changed. Or has it?
Maybe it won’t be visible to the eye, but robots may have taken the place where people currently toil to keep the Vegas machine humming. About 65% of all jobs in Vegas are susceptible to automation by 2035 — a bigger share than in any other part of the country. Across the U.S., 55% (or more) of jobs in almost all metropolitan areas face this same scenario.
Who will be at risk? How many jobs will be lost by then? And what will life look like?
Scientists are heatedly debating whether robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will appear as colossally in our lives as some studies predict. Will we really see mass adoption of robots and AI gadgets?
The reality is both technologies already have seen mass adoption and it is foolish not to expect it to accelerate. Every smartphone already is essentially an AI device, and 1.5 billion of those were shipped in 2016. Some 1.6 million industrial robots operated worldwide in 2015, a total that’s expected to increase to 2.6 million by 2019.
Research shows that if all these 1 million additional robots worldwide are merely as productive as those that already exist, each robot would on average replace the work done by 5.7 U.S. workers, or 5.7 million workers in all.
More worrisome is that if robot adoption continued to grow at the same pace beyond 2019, about 18 million industrial robots would be installed worldwide in 2035 and would perform the work equivalent to about 100 million U.S. workers. Put another way, this robotic workforce would be capable of producing the equivalent of the current manufacturing output on the entire planet.