With automation of domestic tasks, researchers predict there will be less time spent on housework in 5 years and 10 years. There was a difference between experts' predictions based on their country and gender (top panel). As for how much time can be saved on domestic work (bottom panel), experts predicted grocery shopping would be most automated within 10 years, but physical childcare would be least automated. Credit: Anne-Lise Paris (in-graphidi.com), PLOS, CC-BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
AI experts from the UK and Japan predict that 39% of unpaid domestic work will be automated within 10 years. Ekaterina Hertog from Oxford University, UK, and her Japanese colleagues published the findings in PLOS ONE.
In previous studies, people aged 15 to 64 in the UK spent about 43% of their time doing unpaid household chores (housework like cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids or elders, that could be delegated to a paid worker or replaced with market goods).
Men of working age spend half as much time doing such work as women of working age, and in Japan, it's just 18%. Nevertheless, few studies have examined how automation affects unpaid domestic work, or how predictions differ depending on which AI experts you ask. The next decade will be devoted to assessing the automatability of 17 housework and care tasks by 29 UK female and male AI experts as well as 36 Japanese experts.
Over the next ten years, experts predict that 39% of all domestic work tasks will be automated. According to their estimates, grocery shopping is the most automatable task (59%).
There was a significant lack of automation in the physical childcare task (21%). Automation is predicted to replace more domestic labor according to UK-based experts (42%) than according to Japanese experts (36%). According to the authors, this may be due to a higher rate of labor replacement in the UK than in Japan, as a result of technology.
Compared to UK female experts, UK male experts were more optimistic regarding domestic automation, which is consistent with previous studies showing that men are more optimistic about technology than women in general. The authors consider whether the Japanese gender disparity in household tasks may have contributed to this reversed trend among Japanese experts.
Although the study's diverse sample does not represent the field statistically and the results cannot be generalized to all AI experts, the authors note that examining experts' backgrounds can contextualize their forecasting predictions. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of bringing greater cultural and gender diversity to future research. This is because they recognize that these predictions do not simply anticipate the future of work but also shape it.
According to the authors, a study conducted with technology experts in the UK and Japan suggests that automated household tasks could reduce the amount of time spent on housework and care work by 39% by the year 2020.