This past week I read a couple of articles that talked about the potential impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future of work, and the articles noted that some jobs would likely be safe from being replaced by a robot.
So I decided to look a bit more into it, and see if there was some sort of consensus on what those safe jobs might be, and here is what I found.
- the prevalence of robots and automated systems will mean an increased need for engineers, technicians, and managers to build, maintain, and quality control the work performed by our mechanized labour force.
- Emotions, understanding, empathy – these are things that automation has yet to interpret and deal with appropriately, which means that positions like teachers, doctors, nurses, and therapists are safe.
- The creative fields should be safe for the same reasons, as automated systems may struggle with expressive creativity in fields like writing, art, design, and music.
- For jobs that are repetitive but social, such as bartenders and doctors, many of the core tasks will be done by AI, but there remains an interactive component that people will continue to perform.
- The jobs that will be safe, at least for now, are those well beyond the reach of AI’s capabilities in terms of creativity, strategy and sociability, from social workers to CEOs.
- The jobs that will remain relatively insulated from AI fall on opposite ends of the income spectrum. CEOs, home care nurses, attorneys and hairstylists are all in “safe” professions, but the people in some of these professions will be swimming in the riches of the AI revolution while others compete against a vast pool of desperate fellow workers.
- jobs that are messy and unpredictable and require an understanding of people and the broader world—I like to think of kindergarten teachers—will likely remain safe for a long time.
- Martin Ford, futurist and author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future believes that safe jobs fall into three areas.
- The first is jobs that involve “genuine creativity, such as being an artist, being a scientist, developing a new business strategy”. Ford notes: “For now, humans are still best at creativity but there’s a caveat there. I can’t guarantee you that in 20 years a computer won’t be the most creative entity on the planet. There are already computers that can paint original works of art. So, in 20 years who knows how far it’s going to go?”
- The second area is occupations that involve building complex relationships with people: nurses, for example, or a business role that requires you to build close relationships with clients.
- The third area is jobs that are highly unpredictable – for example, if you’re a plumber who is called out to emergencies in different locations.
here is the list fo the 10 safest jobs from Fast Company:
social workers and therapits
And finally, NPR has put together a pretty cool web site that enables you to select your broad job description and see what the odds are of that job being replaced by a machine in 20 years. Here were some interesting findings (the numbers represent the chance that a machine will replace that job). The numbers seem to have come from The Future of Employment report from 2013:
bookkeeper – 97.6%
umpires and referees – 98.3%
actors – 37.4% (how would that work??)
athletes and sports competitors – 28.3% (again, how would this work??)
writers and authors – 3.8% (yea!)
accountants and auditors – 93.5% (yikes!)
financial analysts – 23.3%
preschool teachers – 0.7%
college professors – 3.2% (but what if they teach accounting??)
chief executives – 1.5% (I always knew what my wife did as a preschool teacher was more important than what I do, and it looks like it’s more important than what CEOs do)
barber – 79.7% (how would this work??)
fitness trainer – 8.5%
recreational therapist – 0.28% (the safest job on the list)
So it looks like I could be out of a job at some point in the not too distant future. Given that there does not seem to be a great future for accountants, it would seem to follow that there is not much need for those who teach accounting. But don’t feel bad for me; fortunately, it looks like my wife will always have a job…