Robots were once the realm of science-fiction. Most of the time they were out to kill humanity. It’s usually bad news for us, but there are always the few remaining humans left leading a heroic resistance to overthrow our robot overlords. Not exactly a bright future.
Then we have stories of a good robot like Johnny 5 or Wall-E or even Rosie from The Jetsons. They just wanted to be our friends and/or clean our stuff. Seriously, who would you really want to hang out with: Wall-E and his pet cockroach or SkyNet? A robot best friend could be awesome especially if he’s an Iron Giant with the voice of Vin Diesel.
Turns out that your robot friend and maid is probably worse for you in the long run. The future is beginning to come true and robots are starting to pop up everywhere. But they aren’t out to kill humans. They’re not even out to turn us into batteries. Oh no, robots are playing the long game and will slowly get rid of humanity in the most efficient way possible. They’re going to get rid of us by taking our jobs and there’s nothing you can do about it. Here are 20 jobs that will be replaced by robots in the future.
Uber has used technology to disrupt the public transportation industry. Google and Tesla are playing around with driverless vehicles. Both of those disruptive technologies are merging. Uber has already begun testing out a fleet of driverless cars in the United States. You can bet that when the pilot is over they start releasing cars that don’t need drivers around the world. Why pay people and deal with them when it’s cheaper to build autonomous vehicles? With falling fares, taxis and most public transportation will also adapt to driverless vehicles. This will affect all transportation with truck drivers, train operators and other goods transportation going completely automated.
If a robots driving you around the city makes you nervous then wait till they fly you around the planet. Flying is the safest way to travel and it is getting even safer all the time. We’re now at the point where most accidents are caused by human error rather than a technical malfunction. Most modern aircraft have the ability to take off, land and fly completely on autopilot. Flyers are still hesitant to trust a robot to take them anywhere without a human pilot. It’s pretty irrational when you think about it. Especially in a world where there’s such a thing as aircraft-assisted suicide by pilots.
18. Pharmacists and Nurses
Medical support staff are already on the way out. UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco has already unleashed a hospital with robot nurses. These autonomous medical support staff carry patient meals, linen and waste. They’re not responsible for just menial tasks, either. The hospital has a fleet of robots responsible for filling prescriptions and delivering pharmaceuticals. Each robot in the fleet requires a fingerprint to unlock the drugs from a locked compartment to prevent theft. Outside of the hospital, pharmacists face companies like PillPack. The New Hampshire based office is filled with drug packing robots. Those prescription drugs are then directly mailed to a patient’s home in convenient-to-take dose packets. Each little bag is marked with its contents as well as the date and time they’re to be taken.
Nurses and pharmacists are the first to go, but some doctors aren’t that far behind. For the most part doctors are still safe from the robot takeover. There are certain surgeries that do require such extraordinary precision that robots are better suited to perform them. Many cancer surgeries, for instance, must remove every cancer cell while leaving healthy cells intact. There are already remote surgery machines that allow doctors to perform operations from the other side of the world. Even that pales in comparison to what’s being developed as researchers may make surgery obsolete. Scientists have begun developing tiny little nano-bots that can swim into your body to seek out and destroy cancer at a cellular level. No cutting required.
Everyone at one point or another has wanted to become an astronaut. But space is dangerous. Everything about it will kill you. From cosmic rays to weightlessness atrophying muscles and bones, danger lurks everywhere in space. A quick stroll into the vacuum without a space suit will give you an idea how inhospitable space is. Along with the dangers, it has always been cheaper for NASA to rely primarily on space probes to explore new worlds rather than human beings. If you still want to go to travel beyond the atmosphere, space tourism is around the corner. Odds are the pilot of the spacecraft that will get you into orbit will also be a robot, though.
Roombas have already become so prevalent that no one thinks twice about a robot cleaning the floor. So far, these janitorial critters are relegated to personal duties in people’s homes (and cat transportation) but commercial automated cleaning is on the way. Avidbots developed Neo as a commercial alternative to a Roomba and works much in the same way. It docks to recharge and refill. Beyond cleaning floors, you can also go off and buy robots that clean windows or mow lawns. So it isn’t relegated to mopping and vacuuming. There are still issues with robot cleaners, like getting those pesky corners, so we’ll still need humans to get a place spotless. Those days are numbered, however.
Students are already learning from interactive technologies. That will continue as we march forward into the future. Schools and universities are embracing video and self-teaching texts allowing students to learn remotely. Going beyond just online learning replacing teachers, Japan has developed a robot that can teach kids how to be master calligraphers. South Korea has Robosem, a telepresence robot to teach kids English. In England, RobotLAB has developed a robot called Nao to help teach autistic kids. That is available now and will only run you about $10,000. Most of these technologies don’t replace a teacher yet. As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated we’ll be relying on robots more and human teachers less.
Not only will robots take over jobs belonging to teaching professionals but also your local babysitter. We already use television, iPads, and video games to preoccupy our children so it isn’t much of a stretch to think that robots will be given nanny duties as well. Japanese retailer Aeon Co. has been using robots to babysit children for a few years now while their parents shop. The 4’6″ robot identifies children by the QR code badges worn by the children. The code passes information to the robot like a child’s name and age and can even chat with them. The robot’s vocabulary is limited but Aeon Co. is continually upgrading the bot.
12. Lab Technicians
Both biology and chemistry tests need hundreds of precisely measured volumes of liquid to be added to test tubes. There are actually a lot of laboratory robots already being used by pharmaceutical companies right now. They’re becoming more common as the prices come down. These lab-bots were used to help decode and map the human genome. The only thing keeping them from stealing all the lab tech jobs is that they don’t have the sensors or the capacity for comparison and visual analysis. Also, while running the experiments are cheap in the long run, devising and setting them up at the beginning is expensive. Once we give them eyes and more sophisticated programming, these jobs will start to evaporate.
If there is one job most people would like to see go extinct, it has to be telemarketing. Robots are already getting rid of of these jobs but there are more telemarketing calls going out. In all likelihood the last telemarketer you spoke to was a robot. These smooth talking telephone sales bots are so good they’re starting to trick people into thinking they’re human. I was almost duped recently. The next time you get a call from a telemarketer who seems way too chirpy and practiced you might want to ask them something like what kind of vegetables are in carrot soup. You may be surprised that the person at the other end won’t understand the question.
10. Postal Service
Physical mail may be dying out, but we rely more and more on front door deliveries for goods. Postal workers are already being replaced behind the scenes as sorting mail is being handled by automated machines. We know that physical delivery of a package will be replaced by driverless vehicles packed with goods. Amazon has already started working on a drone system which will fly your Amazon goods to you. As for mailmen themselves, a company called Starship Technologies is working on that. They have already been testing small, six-wheeled delivery bots in Switzerland to deliver food and medicine. The entire postal service will work like one automated machine.
9. Security Guards
There is a lot of automation going on to help security guards keep spaces safe. Security cameras have been used for years to keep an eye out for potential trouble. With an eye in the sky, you still needed a security guard on the floor. But companies like Knightscope are building robots like the K5 to get rid of the need of human presence at all. Their robot the K5 is a five-foot, 300 lb eggshell looking roboguard that will patrol a given area. Knightscope’s robot can’t arrest anyone but it can report suspicious activity to a security center. From there it is a hop and a skip to Paul Blart: Robocop.
Why stop at security guards? Soldiers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and are put in harm’s way. While we’re not yet at the point of having an army of robot drones, there are fighting machines in the field. The best known are the Predator drones. Ground based units are being developed as well like the MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). Both of them are unmanned but still need to be piloted remotely. The human element is needed for now but as artificial intelligence advances we won’t have to rely on a soldier watching a screen behind a desk.
7. Cashiers and Tellers
ATMs have been around for a long while now and have slowly been displacing tellers at local banks. Restaurants like McDonald’s have begun using automated cashiers. These machines are everywhere now and more are on the way so it’s easy to see that retail stores will follow suit. Soon cashiers will be completely replaced by these machines everywhere you go. Especially as cash becomes more and more irrelevant. The cost of maintenance will end up being incredibly cheap when compared to the cost of minimum wage. You’ll still need staff to make the goods being sold. So at least jobs like baristas are safe.
Or are they? Everyone has had a bad experience with a coffee or tea slinger. For those of us who want warm caffeine and minimum human interaction in the morning there are a few cities in North America that feature a TeaBOT kiosk. Type in the tea you want into a pad, pay for it, and the machine will make it for you. If you’re like me and coffee is more your thing, Cafe X is a similar experience where a robot will make your coffee and make it perfect every time. Instead of ordering it at the location like TeaBOT, you order it from an app that will text you when your coffee is ready. Coffee and tea are one thing but there’s no way a robot can replace a cook, right?
Think again. London based Moley Robotics has already developed a robochef that they plan on releasing to the consumer market later this year. This robot comes with two articulated hands, a range, sink, oven, dishwasher, and a refrigerator. The system is programmed with a library of thousands of recipes and controlled by an app on your phone. Plug in the food you want and the robochef will start making it for you. Even clean-up will be handled by the bot. The robot is trained with motion-capture so restaurants can bring in a chef to train the system and then let it become the entire kitchen staff.
Bad calls will be a thing of the past. Umpires and referees who are completely impartial and never miss a thing will be calling the shots. There is evidence that shows home teams tend to be favored over the visiting team so this isn’t such a bad idea. Tennis is already using a system called Hawk Eye to help umpires make close line calls. A player can option to challenge a call and Hawk Eye will display whether the ball was in or out. In soccer, a German company called GoalControl has developed a system to detect if a ball has crossed the goal line. The system was used during the 2014 World Cup.
There are engineers out there trying to make an android that looks and acts exactly like a human. Once they cross that uncanny valley you can expect to see impossibly beautiful looking people walk the runway. For photography, Amazon has filed a patent for a highly adjustable mannequin able to take its own pictures. The articulated robot will always take the most flattering view of an article of clothing. But why stop at robots when we have holographic technology? Fashion designers could create haut couture on a computer and then have simulated holographic models show it off on the runway.
2. Sex Workers
For as long as humanity has been developing robots, a few people have wanted to have sex with them. There are a few companies already producing sex-bots for sale but for the most part they don’t do much more than lay there. These robots may not even be the way to go as VR technology comes of age. You could wear a pair of VR glasses as well as other… peripherals… to simulate sex in a virtual environment. Instead of taking your sex-bot out of the closet, all you have to do is turn on your headset and plug-and-play. So to speak.
Technology is already displacing some writers. Companies like Narrative Science and Automated Insights have already developed algorithms to produce written content. These services already write earnings reports for the Associated Press and sports coverage for Big Ten Network. Not exactly creative writing. Researchers in Europe are, however, developing something called computational creativity. This will teach computers to understand metaphor, narrative, and even humor. Amazon is also trying to develop digital authors for their Kindle platform. If AI understands art, not only will I be out of a job, but so will musicians, novelists, filmmakers, painters and other creative artists.
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