If you asked most people 10 years ago if they ever thought a robot would take over they job, they probably would have laughed in your face. Most likely, they would dismiss your silly questions as something out of science fiction, assuming you were off your rocker. Just a decade later though, many of those same people might be in fear of losing their job. This is because as technology grows, the ability to create more intelligent AI grows exponentially. As a result, robots are already taking over some of those jobs no one ever expected them too, leading many to believe that it is no longer “if” robots will take over, but rather “when.”
Back in 2013, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborn set out to look at 702 distinct occupations and examine their susceptibility to computerization. In their 72-page report they go into depth on their methodology and explain how certain jobs are more susceptible to automation than others. Primarily, those who are employed in repetitive labor, manipulation of data, and similar jobs are more at risk while those who have extensive social interactions, create more unique content, and deal with people on a one-on-one basis are safer. Either way, many professions are due for some form of automation down the road.
As with any technological advance, many people worry that robots taking over will be the beginning of a massive era of poverty. After all, those who already have money will simply buy the automated machines and those without will be left to starve. Though there will undoubtedly be some people who fall victim to this, most will simply find that they need to adapt. When the automobile took off, most of the wheel-makers for horse wagons didn’t just become homeless; instead, they learned how to work with the new technology. Similarly, auto mechanics today have to constantly update their knowledge to deal with newer technologies. Though you might not like it, you’ll have to do the same.
Additionally, there are many more benefits to this type of automation than there are potential downfalls. For instance, the more automation that exists, the less expensive certain things will become. Inevitably, these technologies will shorten the work days for most people, while those in irreplaceable professions (i.e. personal trainers, therapists, many doctors) will become more abundant.
Of course, if you prefer to make things a little easier on yourself, you might be interested in checking this handy tool built by BBC. Using the information from Osborn and Frey’s study, this online tool is able to give you an idea of how likely you are to be replaced by a machine someday. Though this was made with the United Kingdom in mind, you can apply the concept in the United States as well. Simply type your profession into the box where it says “I am a…” and you should get a prompt that matches your profession. You might be surprised by some of the professions they predict will be taken over.
Regardless of what profession you are in, the best way to avoid any worries about unemployment or difficult job searches is to make sure you are at the top of your game. Stay on top of new technological developments in your industry and if they affect you, learn how to use them. Your most valuable asset is your knowledge and skills, so always look to build them when you can.