As our technology develops, so do the machines that we’ve built to serve us. The rise of artificial intelligence poses a lot of interesting questions such as how intelligent should we let machines be or will artificial intelligence ever be able to release itself from our control, among many others.
While no one disputes these are incredibly interesting topics to debate, the truth is that most people only worry about what concerns them so, invariably, the questions surround the topic of artificial intelligence will almost always be reduced to one main concern: Will I get to keep my job or will I be replaced by a robot?
Most of us will have jobs that can be replaced, at least over an infinite amount of time. The first industrial revolution changed our society and factories provided millions of jobs for decades until these jobs were slowly lost to the automation of the manufacturing process. Some factories now operate almost entirely with robotic labour.
While this automation has eliminated most of the assembly line type of work, it has opened up an entirely new avenue in software, programming and maintenance as machines themselves need to looked after like any equipment.
In this article, we’ll look into the 15 jobs that are most likely to disappear with the rise of artificial intelligence.
15. Factories will run on artificial intelligence and robots
This is the most obvious entry on our list, predominantly because this change is already taking place on a massive scale in the developed world. While some of these jobs moved overseas so manufacturing costs would go down due to access to ever lower-pay workers, factories are changing at their very core.
Workers everywhere are being phased out, replaced by robots who can perform their jobs in a more efficient way. You can understand why the companies are interested in this type of progress as robots don’t tend to demand healthcare and vacation days. As these jobs are taken over by robots, a new type of work appears in software, programming and maintenance of the new robotic workforce.
14. Humans will no longer have to work in retail
Anyone who works in the retail industry should be very wary of what the next 10-20 years hold for them. As artificial intelligence becomes more complex, so does robotics follow that trajectory and the first jobs to be replaced will be those which are largely made up of low-skill, repetitive tasks.
Unfortunately for retail workers, this description pretty much captures what it’s like to work in the industry. Cashiers have already started getting replaced by self-service machines in many countries and stockers should be up next. Amazon Go’s stores will run virtually without human workers, as employees won’t be required once the machines have become developed enough to do their tasks.
13. Railroad workers will be one of the first professions to disappear
Tests have already begun on robots that will be able to replace rail and transportation workers. This activity is highly labour intensive and the industry requires a very high amount of intense maintenance work. As such, this will mean railroad and transportation workers will be one of the first groups to witness their jobs lost to the machines.
A Russian prototype has already proved quite successful in an open display to investors and members of the press. The ultimate plan is to build special machines that can replace humans in particularly difficult work for railways. These robots would be able to inspect parts of trains that were difficult for humans to access.
12. Drivers will be a thing of the past
Most people will be expecting human drivers to become a thing of the past. Technological giants such as Uber and Google have already started testing self-driving cars on California’s roads and, while some glitches have been reported, there’s no arguing that the days of humans driving vehicles are numbered.
From trucks to taxis, drivers make up one of the biggest professional classes in the United States and the world. As self-driving cars are phased in, drivers will be phased out. Along with cancer and heart disease, road accidents are one of the main causes of death in the world so, as painful as the move to self-driving cars may be for some, it’s something that simply must happen.
11. Energy power plant workers replaced by robots
This trend will follow from human workers being replaced by artificial intelligence in the manufacturing industry. The main interest in replacing humans with robots in the context of energy power plants lies in protecting us from the harmful accidents which could result in death.
From Fukushima to Chernobyl, when something goes wrong in a nuclear power plant, the loss of life can be catastrophic. By replacing workers at these plants, we essentially eliminate the risk of loss of human life as the plants can now be located in the middle of nowhere, away from the human population. This trend is expected to transpire into other types of energy-producing facilities.
10. Insurance underwriters will be gone
Most people will wrongly assume this tide of unemployment will stop at low-skill, mundane and repetitive tasks. The truth is artificial intelligence-powered machines will also be coming after some of the more traditional jobs. Without us being aware of it, most of us rely on some sort of artificial intelligence to do our jobs.
A Japanese insurance company has already taken things to the next level and replaced 30 employees with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI, a system which can calculate payouts to policyholders. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is expecting massive increases in productivity as costs are brought down by getting rid of human workers.
9. Travel agents are already losing their jobs to AI
The travel industry has been steadily losing jobs over the last decade as more and more people rely solely on their Internet research skills. Some services even use algorithms to find glitches in the airlines’ booking systems which allow users to find ridiculously-priced flights.
This trend is set to continue as airlines seek to cut costs further. Much like what’s been done with retail workers being replaced by self-service machines, airlines have replaced several aspects of their experience by splitting the work between the customer and a self-service machine. The Internet, AI and robotics will eventually render the travel agent profession obsolete.
8. Farmers are set to lose out
This group has already suffered from our increased reliance on machines but forecasts from experts indicate they will suffer even further as robots powered by artificial intelligence become more developed. In the last 100 years, farming has already gone from a highly labour-intensive activity to a task that can be managed by fewer people with working knowledge of different types of equipment.
Up until this point, farmers have relied on machines to manage their workload but with self-driving intelligent harvest machines, there simply won’t be a need for human farmers anymore. These will pose a serious issue to agricultural-based economies, which are still prevalent in the developing world
7. Postal service workers will continue to dwindle
This profession has already been severely depleted by technological progress and the rise of Amazon as well as other more efficient delivery services. The job of collecting and delivering the mail used to rely solely on human workers but this reliance has been eroded by the development of more efficient collection, sorting and delivery systems.
These systems will now be powered by artificial intelligence where humans were still active in the process. Furthermore, as drones become more advanced, countries like Finland and Canada have already indicated they plan to incorporate drones into their post delivery networks. This profession will most likely be completely gone in the next 20 years.
6. Personal assistants will also struggle
There are several virtual personal assistant solutions on the market right now, which rely on varying degrees of artificial intelligence built into them. As these become more advanced, the executives who may have been initially wary of changing from a human personal assistance due to fear of losing the personal touch of a human relationship will abandon their fears.
These personal assistant solutions will not only be more efficient in scheduling and calendar management tasks but will also be able to interpret and apply different tones of voice, sarcasm and lies. They will no doubt be of valuable assistance to new executives unsure of how their new position works.
5. Artificial intelligence will phase out accountants
Calculators changed the accounting profession when they first came out but you’d still need a human being to operate them. As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, the accounting profession will subside. Algorithms will be able to eliminate all likelihood of human error in a way humans would simply be unable to.
As the day of an accountant is filled with high-routine tasks, it makes their whole profession more susceptible to these changes.
Machines powered by artificial intelligence will make no mistakes, which will be very beneficial for society as a whole as massive corporate malfeasance will be eradicated, at least from the financial standpoint.
4. Wildlife preservation will be better done by robots
Advances in robotics coupled with more developed artificial intelligence will also help humanity protect its wildlife and nature reserves, in a way which would have been highly expensive to accomplish using only humans. This will actually have a positive return on society as there simply aren’t that many people who are willing to get into this line of work.
From using drones to replant trees and perform the surveillance duties in protected zones to swarming robots which can clean up oil spills, this area can be greatly improved by more advanced artificial intelligence. It will also allow us to detect wildfires and stop poachers with an effectiveness which would have simply been too expensive using solely human labour.
3. Robot teachers will make you want to go back to school
While some will argue this will be impossible to accomplish in the absolute, some teachers will undoubtedly suffer as artificial intelligence surpasses our own. Computers have long been beating us at activities which require a high level of intelligence so it’s no wonder to think they can teach us a thing or two.
This scenario will raise some Ex Machina-like concerns but it can’t be denied that artificial intelligence will simply be better than us at learning and regurgitating information. The teaching profession is a highly nuanced one which requires a great level of skill to be performed well but it’s indisputable that over the next century, artificial intelligence will have bene able to incorporate these nuances into their capabilities.
2. Paralegals will be replaced by artificial intelligence
Professions which rely on the processing of knowledge will be replaced by artificial intelligence in the long run. Paralegals will fall into this category. This back-office function of the legal system will suffer as machines become better than us at taking information in and performing repetitive tasks. Machines will be able to take over paralegal’s duties in client meetings as well as filling out contracts.
Much like with accountants, these artificial intelligence-powered paralegals will eliminate human error and be more efficient than their human counterparts. Machines won’t have to be paid a fair salary or demand healthcare and vacation days so law firms will be able to slash costs.
1. Robots will replace surgeons (and may not stop there)
Speaking of reducing the possibility of human error, this will be imperative in the healthcare industry. Highly advanced robotic surgeons powered by equally developed artificial intelligence will completely eliminate the risk associated with surgical procedures, at least with what concerns the surgeon’s action.
But artificial intelligence may not stop there, as even doctors aren’t safe from progress. It will be able to detect symptoms in a way doctors are simply unable to, and with more advanced capabilities for processing information, it’ll be more efficient in delivering the right prognosis and treatment.
This type of progress is still several decades down the road but everything indicates that virtually all humans will be out of a job in the long run.
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