Technology that adds intelligence to computers poses a far more serious threat to jobs than low-wage countries, a research firm said Friday.

The first wave of job-killing technology occurred in manufacturing in the 1990s, when computer-driven robotics introduced across industries from automaking to steel made it possible to produce more product with fewer people, Strategy Analytics said in a recent analysis of emerging technologies.



In the second wave, workers in customer service, help desk, directory assistance, and other support activities in businesses will be replaced by computers that have enough intelligence to handle repetitive tasks that occur during human interaction.



In the manufacturing sector in the 90s, companies sold $100 billion worth of software and hardware for robotics, said Harvey Cohen, president of Strategy Analytics. While the technology increased productivity and added to companies’ bottom lines, it also eliminated 10 million jobs worldwide.



In the new millennium, as the use of intelligent computers increase, jobs will vanish, with several million expected to disappear over the next five to seven years, Cohen said. While less labor to do more work is great for business, there will be an impact on society as people find decent paying jobs harder to find.



Technology “will take the job growth out of the industries that the government has said are good places to develop employment,” Cohen said. “So we’ve raised the question, have they thought this problem through properly?”



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