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Report: Robots steadily erode wages

Guided robots in Yiwu, China. Photo: Zhang Cheng / Xinhua / Getty

Some of the more optimistic forecasts on robots forecast that it's not jobs that will vanish, but tasks. That is, about half of the things that make up current occupations are automatable, according to a recent report by McKinsey, however that just means the workers will retrain and transform those jobs into something else.

But, but, but: According to a new report by Barclays called Robots at the Gate, those little tweaks to jobs are precisely what makes automation so pernicious: Wages, says report author Ajay Rajadhyaksha, end up suppressed because automation happens in steps, steadily eroding the value of a job as it assumes control of the tasks required to do it.