Have you ever imagined your job is at risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence (AI) over the next 5 years and more globally have you ever been thinking about the future of work? Robots can be more efficient in working nonstop with repetitive and manual tasks. They can be faster than human beings with fewer errors, which enables companies to save money. 

According to the McKinsey report, almost 45 percent of current jobs can be automated by new technology in the coming decades. Some of us may believe this will only affect low-skill and low-wage jobs, such as manufacturing, retail service or security jobs. However, the research shows that many of the highest-paid jobs even in the legal and medical industries could also be at risk and be replaced by robots.

To what extent have robots already taken the existing jobs?

 

1) Factory workers

Over the last decades, we have seen millions of factory jobs being replaced by industrial robots. The automated robots are designed to perform a variety of programmed tasks including moving stuff in the factories. They can work without pausing for breaks, sleep, or vacations, and ultimately have the ability to produce more in a shorter time than a human worker. Another big advantage of industrial robots is improvements in injury rates from dangerous work environments with extreme heat or cold, poor air quality, and toxic materials.

While robots are helping many different aspects of manufacturing, it will still require people to manage sophisticated operations such as maintenance and programming. Before losing your job, why don’t you start learning new skills as a personal investment to take on this new task?

2) Telemarketers and receptionists

It is not surprising to know telemarketers will be replaced by robots. Many of us have already experienced to receive automated phone calls in the telemarketing services. Unlike other sales roles, telemarketing is highly routine, repetitive, and predictable, which leads to having a 99% probability of automation in the next couple of decades. Alongside this, receptionists are also highly expected to be replaced by robots. In fact, robots are already deployed in the hospitality industries to provide information, front desk services, storage services, as well as check-in and check-out services.

However, while robots can bring many advantages, it is also important to acknowledge that they cannot quickly adapt to unanticipated circumstances, especially when they are not memorized in their programmed parameters.

3) Taxi and bus drivers

Among many other jobs, taxi drivers are highly likely going to be replaced by robots. There are already self-driving cars, also known as driverless cars on the road and it is just a matter of time before fully autonomous vehicles take over public transportation. Through advanced technology, it is also expected to transform many other modes of transportation such as trucks, tractors, ships, trains, and construction equipment.

While millions of transportation workers will lose their jobs through this new technology, there will be a good impact on society as well. Driverless cars will come with the possibility of less expensive and convenient transport and fewer people will own their cars if ride services like Uber would cost ridiculously low. It will also help the poor, elderly and disabled have access to get around with its own smart user-friendly service.

4) Bank tellers and clerks

Do you remember people were queuing outside of the bank door? Now, we hardly see people standing in a queue at banks because people can have access to deposit and withdraw their money at any place and anytime they want. There are ATMs everywhere and people can now access various banking services by using their smartphone apps and online platforms. It is no wonder that some estimates around 30 percent of banking sector jobs will be lost to AI within the next decades. Moreover, traditional banks may soon face another challenge by the new revolution of digital currency, like Bitcoin.

Despite the worries about unemployment for bank workers, it is also believed that humans will still be needed to supervise, monitor, and maintain these new technologies. Moreover, research shows that customers will still want to deal with human staff who can bring different skills in creativity, judgment, and empathy.

5) Doctors

Believe or not, one of the highly skilled professions like doctors can even be replaced by robots. Using its algorithms, IBM’s Watson AI is transforming healthcare by recommending the same best cancer treatment as doctors. Although there are still many arguments between doctors and robots in the medical service, one thing we can be sure of is AI and machine learning algorithms help doctors with effective data collection and analysis. However, there’s no doubt that cutting edge technology will have a big impact on medical services such as robots carrying out surgery.

6) Chef

It is quite unbelievable to imagine our food will be prepared by a robot chef in the future. Robots are being introduced to many restaurants for their endless energy to perform different tasks such as learning recipes, cooking, and cleaning up the mess. With the help of this new technology, restaurants can save on high labor cost and at the same time, provide the best and efficient service to the customers by lowering waiting time. Not only restaurants but also anyone will soon be able to welcome this new robot chef to their kitchen.

Considering the highly sophisticated and creative level of work required in the culinary industry, it still seems to be limited to replace robot chefs from the human chef. However, it will certainly create some challenges for people working in the industry. What can be the best win-win situation for the culinary industry, chef, and customers?

7) Paralegals and legal assistants

“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out. People get bored, people get a headache. Computers don’t.” lawyer Bill Herr tells the New York Times.

Another white-collar job, the legal profession, is also at risk to be replaced by robots and AI. The new technology can help legal professionals spend much less time on tedious manual processes, such as reviewing and creating contracts, as well as identifying and classifying key clauses and other information from thousands of legal documents. This will further help the legal industry increase efficiency and save clients’ money, but could also lead to cut human jobs.

It is too soon to think robots will replace lawyers. It is believed that lawyers will still play a vital role in strategic legal work. The use of new technology is not meant to displace professions, but it can be more efficient, accurate, consistent, and fast if lawyers can embrace it for the future of its implications.

Photo credit: US Dept of Defense 

About the author

Moonju KIM

With my experience working in the international development sector, I write articles about innovation and creativity.

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