Four in ten hours are currently devoted to unpaid housework and caring responsibilities. But research from the University of Oxford and Ochanomizu University has found that up to 40 percent of those hours could potentially be automated within ten years, says the university in a press release.

The predictions of the likely impact of automation for different domestic tasks varied considerably, with grocery shopping seen as most likely to benefit. On average, experts predicted, time currently spent on grocery shopping would fall by nearly 60 percent in 10 years. Other repetitive domestic tasks, such as cooking and cleaning, were also seen as ripe for automation with experts predicting that time people currently spend on these tasks will be reduced by 46 percent in the next ten years. Meanwhile, respondents believed time spent on physical childcare would only be reduced by 21 percent as a result of automation.

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Experts divided on automation’s impact

Ekaterina Hertog, associate professor in AI and Society at the Oxford Internet Institute and Ethics in AI Institute at Oxford’s Department of Philosophy adds: “We find male and female experts had different expectations about automation of domestic work, potentially reflecting the differences in their lived experiences with technology as well as their involvement in housework and care work.”

AI experts based in the UK and those in Japan offered different visions of the future, according to the study. While UK-based experts predicted that most domestic tasks would be reduced by around 40 percent, Japanese experts saw a more limited impact – suggesting that domestic automation may be delayed in Japan.

More female experts

Nobuko Nagase, professor of Labour Economics and Social Policy at Ochanomizu University, notes: “In Japan, most AI experts are male. As male experts in Japan expect domestic automation to save much less time compared to their counterparts in the UK this may mean that research and development in this area is not receiving the attention it deserves and household automation may be delayed in Japan. This is alarming for me, as a woman, and I say we need to expand the number of female AI experts.”