Grocery shopping was perceived as the most automatable task, childcare as the least automatable – ScienceDaily

On average, 39 percent of the time currently spent doing unpaid housework could be automated within the next decade, AI experts from the UK and Japan suggest. The results will be published in the open access journal on February 22, 2023 PLUS ONE by a team led by Ekaterina Hertog from the University of Oxford, UK, and colleagues in Japan.

According to previous studies, people in the UK aged 15-64 spend around 43 per cent of their total working and study time doing unpaid domestic work (domestic work such as cooking and cleaning, and child or elderly care which could theoretically be delegated to a paid laborer or through market goods replaced). In the UK, working-age men spend about half as much time in this job as working-age women, and in Japan the same figure is just 18 percent. So far, however, few studies have examined automation in relation to unpaid housework or how predictions about automation differ depending on the AI ‚Äč‚Äčexperts consulted. The authors of the present study asked 29 male and female AI experts from the UK and 36 experts from Japan to estimate how automatable 17 home and care tasks could be in the next ten years.

The experts predicted that in the next ten years, on average, 39 percent of the time people currently spend doing household chores could be automated. Their estimates varied significantly between tasks, with the most automatable task being grocery shopping (59 percent). The least automatable task was physical child care (21 percent). UK experts believed automation could replace more domestic labor (42 percent) than Japanese experts (36 percent). The authors suggest that this may be because technology is more associated with labor replacement in the UK compared to Japan.

British male experts tended to be more optimistic about home automation compared to British female experts, consistent with previous studies showing that men are generally more optimistic about technology than women. However, this trend reversed for Japanese experts, with female experts being slightly more optimistic; The authors consider whether Japanese gender differences in household tasks play a role in these results.

Although the study’s diverse sample is not statistically representative of the field and is too small to generalize the results to all AI experts, the authors note that examining the experts’ background can contextualize their predictions. They also emphasize that these predictions not only anticipate the future of work but also shape it, so it is important to bring greater cultural and gender diversity into future research.

The authors add: “Our study of technology professionals in the UK and Japan found that in 10 years home automation could reduce the time spent on current household and care chores by 39%.”

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