Technology is always being employed to find newer, better ways of performing tasks. Historically, it was the creation of farming equipment revolutionizing agriculture and automation exponentially increasing the output of industry that have represented the most dramatic shifts in the labor market. Thanks to the ever-increasing sophistication of computers however, there are more jobs than ever that have the potential of being eliminated and replaced by machines. Some research suggests that almost half of American jobs could be replaced by machines in a few decades. In the past, jobs made redundant by new technology have generally been replaced by new professions, but it is unclear whether this will happen again in the computer age. While there’s no need to panic yet, as the jury is still out on whether or not this is largely good news or bad, there could be reason to be alarmed if you find yourself working in the following fields.
8. Professional Drivers
The self-driving car future is on its way, with many manufacturers planning to release partially-autonomous vehicles (with features suchs as hands-free driving at highway speeds and lane-changing) are expected to have a significant market presence as early as 2017. It seems that before we know it, human error on the roadway will be a thing of the past — but that also includes anyone who makes a living by driving. The costs savings of switching to a self-driving future are hugely significant — not just in terms of human life, but time as well. Unfortunately for anyone who drives professionally, shipping product by driver-less truck or sending someone a driver-less cab is going to win out economically every time (at least as soon as the technology is affordable and reliable) .
Computers are simply better with numbers than humans, so it makes sense that accounting would be a good fit. Sophisticated accounting software is nothing new, of course, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that accounting software will become so accessible that the need for actual accountants will diminish. It’s unlikely that major accounting-related positions, like auditors or high-level corporate accountants, are going away anytime soon, but consumer-level accounting services may end up being replaced fully by computers sooner than you’d think.
Going to law school and becoming a lawyer used to be a pretty reliable way to make good money, but computer technology is making it so that fewer lawyers will be needed in the future. One of the primary functions of a good lawyer is the ability to research and identify important information from a large pool, something that computer search engines have been adept at for decades. It’s becoming increasingly likely that, rather than hire on new attorneys, law firms will rely on computers to do a lot of the duties that younger, less experienced lawyer would have done traditionally.
5. Cashiers/Retail Salespeople
Jobs in the retail sector are great opportunities for students due to their relative ease and low commitment levels. Unfortunately, thanks to a combination of advances in robotic technology and the rising popularity of online shopping, students will likely have a harder time finding solid work in the service industry in the future. Online purchasing requires little to no service personnel and You’ve probably already noticed retail chains seem to have fewer employees manning the counters and stocking shelves and it’s only going to become more noticeable in time.
Telemarketers receive a lot of abuse from annoyed people on the other end of the phone line, but it’s important to remember that they are people too…or at least, they used to be. Yes, telemarketing is at the top of the pile of jobs most likely to be completely eliminated by computers, which makes sense when you think about it. Most telemarketers already sound robotic in their delivery, due to required mandates of sticking closely to scripts in order to be effective. It’s also a profession that relies on the same routine tasks being repeated, which is something that robots excel at. On the bright side, at least all of that verbal abuse will eventually be taken out on robots, who won’t care one way or another.
3. Sports/Financial News Writers
It’s strange to think that a computer could replace paid writers, but there are legitimate threats to writing positions that report on fact-based topics such as sports and business. Computers have become sophisticated enough to write news articles that look like a human’s handiwork and anything that is heavily reliant on data, like sports and business, are at a higher risk of being outsourced to robots. At least opinion-based content can’t be done by computers…yet.
Machines have always been a significant component of warfare and have only increased their value as technology has improved. Unmanned drones have already replaced a fair number of piloting positions, but the need for flesh and blood soldiers has persisted. According to HowStuffWorks, it’s predicted that at least a quarter of U.S. combat troops will be replaced by drones and robots by 2030. There is significant justification for replacing humans with robots when it comes to the military, as it would decrease not only the financial cost of warfare, but also the very real and tragic human cost. On the other side, cheaper war doesn’t exactly sound like a thing the world needs either. Either way, this is sure to become a highly controversial and complex issue as it becomes more prevalent.
We’ve already seen surgeries being carried out by machines in various science-fiction films, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that robots will one day replace humans in this stressful medical profession. While doctors in general aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, having machines perform surgery only makes more and more sense as the technology improves. Robots are simply better equipped to handle all the tasks of a surgeon, as the can make cleaner, more precise incisions. Most importantly, robots aren’t subject to the same biological weaknesses that could hinder a human surgeon from performing their job successfully (stress, emotional hindrances).
Need more? Check out 5 (More) Jobs That Will Be Replaced by Robots