Just 24 hours after a report predicted that artificial intelligence will create 133 million new jobs worldwide, it has emerged that UK workers are perhaps not quite so keen on the rise of the machines after all, amid claims that some staff are deliberately “sabotaging” robots in their workplaces over fears they will push them out of their jobs.
According to a study by De Montfort University into the use of robotics in the healthcare sector, some UK workers deliberately prevent machines from carrying out their tasks. This is in stark contrast to workplaces in Norway, where staff give robots affectionate names.
De Montfort professor of work, employment and skills Jonathan Payne said: “We heard stories of workers standing in the way of robots, and minor acts of sabotage – and not playing along with them. The UK seems to have a problem with diffusion and take-up of technology.”
Reluctance to embrace it seems to stem from employers’ lack of explanations, with bosses failing to tell their employees exactly why a robot is needed and what kind of improvements it would bring. This creates tension and makes the employees think of the robots as the enemy, instead of an aide, Payne suggested.
The study also reveals the more “vulnerable” regions when it comes to workplace robots: East Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cumbria, West Wales and the Valleys.
It also highlights the fact that many UK businesses struggle to find the robot alternative “cost effective", because of implementation costs that would ensure a smooth transition.