Keep working, human: A robot is not coming to take your job, report finds

Robots are not coming to take our jobs - at least not anytime soon. 

A draft Productivity Commission report has found there will be some change to the workforce in the next decade, but it's not going to be unprecedented. 

Contrary to claims many of us will be replaced in our jobs by robots and artificial intelligence (AI), more technology in the workplace actually increases the number of jobs, the commission says.

"The problem is not that there is too much technological change and adoption; there is too little...  New Zealand's leading firms are slow to adopt worldleading technologies, and the poorest-performing firms are not driven out by competition."

Principal policy advisor Nik Green says humans will continue to have a role to play.

"There's been a lot of discussion about fears artificial intelligence might lead to large-scale destruction of jobs. What we found is there doesn't seem to be much sign of that in the data. We think there's plenty of time for New Zealand to prepare."

Green says historically, more technology means more jobs - and we'd see more goods and services if the tools were there.

"If you look at both New Zealand data and international data, you actually see quite the opposite - job churn is down, people are spending longer in their jobs, there's less businesses being created." 

The report notes while AI has made huge strides in recent years - such as being able to accurately diagnose patients as accurately as a human doctor, it's hard to tell if it'll be able to replace people entirely soon, if ever.

In some areas - such as driverless cars - progress has been slower than initially anticipated. 

Green says even if there was a sudden tech uprising, we'd barely notice.

"If you look at big technological transformations of the past - things like steam power, electricity and computers - they took 30 or 40 years for their full effects to be felt."

The report concludes that a "continuation of existing trends seems the most likely scenario, including further automation of routine tasks and the concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs in major cities". 

"It is unlikely that, in the next 10-15 years, automation technologies will widely displace human labour in New Zealand."

The full report can be read on the Productivity Commission's website