Rise of the Robots

Date01 January 2016
Published date01 January 2016
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com).
DOI 10.1002/jcaf.22128
Rise of the Robots
Tom Pryor
Ford, Martin, 2015. Rise of
the Robots: Technology and
the Threat of a Jobless Future
(NewYork: Basic Books).
There is a 95% likelihood
accounting jobs … including
chartered accountants, certified
public accountants and cor-
porate accountants … will be
automated within the next two
decades.1 The book reviewed,
Rise of the Robots, explains
how, why, and what to do.
This book has three pri-
mary reading audiences:
(1)corporate leaders seeking
competitive advantages for
strategic planning; (2) chief
financial officers (CFOs), con-
trollers, finance and accounting
managers interested in learning
the current and future impact
of automation and algorithms
on their careers and corporate
processes; and (3) corporate
information technology (IT)
leaders desiring to benchmark
their processes and projects.
Secondary audiences include
entrepreneurs searching for rev-
enue ideas, academic research-
ers seeking knowledge voids
to fill, and government leaders
seeking insights as to why the
number of jobs and annual
average wages have not grown
for the past two decades.
Author Martin Ford
describes the historical changes
and context for his 10 chapters
of past, current, and future job
changes—changes in white-
collar, higher education, and
health care jobs caused by
automation, algorithms, and
In the 20th century, mech-
anization of agriculture elimi-
nated millions of jobs, driving
crowds to cities in search of
factory work. Factory job
losses caused by automation
and globalization (offshor-
ing) forced workers into new
service jobs. For reasons dis-
cussed in detail in this book,
service job growth has dried
up. On January 2, 2010, the
Washington Post reported that
the first decade of the 21st
century resulted in no new
jobs. Zero.
While the major impact of
automation discussed in the
10chapters of the book results
in a decline in jobs in many sec-
tors of the economy, Chapter 1
explains that robotics has had
a positive impact in the Ameri-
can manufacturing sector. U.S.
textile and apparel exports rose
by 37% between 2009 and 2012.
This significant turnaround
was driven by automation
technology so efficient that it
is competitive with even the
lowest-wage offshore workers.
As a result, automation and
robotics will cause a marginal
increase in manufacturing jobs
as companies bring back prod-
ucts from offshore. The same
positive impact of automation
is not expected in the service
Chapter 1 of the book lists
numerous examples of where
automation has and will con-
tinue to eliminate service sector
• ATMs eliminated thou-
sands of bank teller jobs.
• Fast food restaurants, like
McDonalds, are experi-
menting with robotic food
preparation. As a result,
the author imagines a
50%+ reduction in fast
food jobs. This is especially
troubling because “nearly
90% of fast food workers

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