Within Next Decade 39% of Domestic Chores Will Be Done by Robots


In a recent research study published in PLOS ONE, 65 experts in artificial intelligence (AI) from the UK and Japan were consulted by researchers to make predictions about how much common household work will be automated in the next ten years.

While care for the young or elderly was expected to be least likely to be affected by AI, experts showed that grocery shopping was likely to witness the most automation.

Researchers from Britain’s Oxford University and Japan’s Ochanomizu University were interested in the potential effects of robots on unpaid domestic labor. "If robots will steal our jobs, will they at least also take out the trash for us?" they posed.

The researchers noted that the most often created and marketed robots worldwide are those used for "domestic household duties," such as robot vacuum cleaners.

For their predictions on robots in the home, the team consulted 29 AI specialists from the UK and 36 AI experts from Japan.

Researchers found that male UK experts tended to be more optimistic about domestic automation compared with their female counterparts, a situation reversed in Japan.

But the tasks which experts thought automation could do varied: "Only 28% of care work, including activities such as teaching your child, accompanying your child, or taking care of an older family member, is predicted to be automated", said Dr Lulu Shi, postdoctoral researcher, Oxford Internet Institute,

On the other hand, technology was expected to cut 60% of the time we spend on grocery shopping, experts said.

Technology is more likely to aid humans than to replace them, according to Dr. Kate Devlin, reader in AI and Society at King's College, London, who was not engaged in the study. "It's difficult and expensive to make a robot that can do multiple or general tasks. Instead, it's easier and more useful to create assistive technology that helps us rather than replaces us," she said.

The research suggests domestic automation could free up a lot of time spent on unpaid domestic work. In the UK, working-age men do around half as much of this unpaid work as working-age women, in Japan the men do less than a fifth.

According to Ekaterina Hertog, associate professor in AI and Society at Oxford University, women's incomes, savings, and pensions are negatively impacted by the disproportionate amount of household labor they must do. Therefore, the researchers suggest, greater gender equality could arise from increased automation.


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