Will robots take away all of our jobs? Fast Future Publishing authors identify just some of the jobs that are set to disappear altogether over the next few years
We are already seeing jobs being transformed by AI technologies. While new jobs will be created some jobs that we currently do could be eliminated entirely.
To help put the potential changes in an everyday context, we identify in our new book, Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity, twenty human job roles that could be transformed or eliminated completely by the use AI and robotics between 2020 and 2030.
Here are a few just to get you thinking.
1. Customer service representatives
Chatbots are already making sales calls, helping customers make choices and solving callers’ problems across a wide range of industries. No mood swings, standardized quality, 24/7 availability and extensive and constantly updated knowledge are just a few of the benefits that AI promises to bring to customer service. However, there might still be delicate and complex issues that would be handled better with a human touch.
2. Doctors / Surgeons
Fully autonomous and remote controlled robotic surgeons will diagnose, treat and operate on patients in areas where there are no physical human medics available. Humans might monitor or control these robo-docs via video from central hub hospital facilities in bigger towns and cities. New services might emerge such as mobile doctors’ surgeries using autonomous vehicles which visit the patient to enable remote diagnosis and conversation while the doctor remains in their office.
A combination of technology advances, changing societal expectations and the needs of business, mean we can anticipate transformations of the educational system and curriculum. So, while AI might be in charge of imparting most of the technical skills and information for learners, educators would focus on developing human-to-human social skills with teachers as sensitive mentors.
4. Construction Workers
Robotic excavators could undertake trenching work for new construction projects while increasingly sophisticated 3D printing coupled with drones and robotic workers could replace many construction jobs. These might include demolition, bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, cabling, and carpentry.
Provision could be made in the 3D printed construction process for the different materials required e.g. external weather proofing, preparing internal surfaces for bespoke decoration and finishing which may be completed by robots. New materials used in the construction could have “self-healing” properties and further reduce the need for human labour for repair and maintenance throughout the building’s life.
AI tools are already being used to gather, sort, analyse, interpret, and write reports and articles for online news sites and investment banks. This will extend to drone based robo-journos sent in to capture and report on the most dangerous situations around the world and to cover a far wider range of situations at far lower cost that sending human journalists.
AI will enable real-time analysis of every transaction, reducing the potential for error and fraud and enabling a continuously updated set of accountants. For accountants the emphasis would be more on improving business results rather than collating and auditing them.
In this role, the keys to a successful career will include understanding the evolving dynamics of a mixed business environment comprising machines and humans, the ability to spot and interpret complex emerging patterns, communication skills, and creativity.
A range of search, analysis, and contract drafting tasks are already being automated. The elimination of the potential for human error will decrease the number of legal disputes. Robot-lawyers are already overturning parking tickets in the UK and US. Moral and ethical issues related to technology advances may become the next legal growth arena.
8. Drivers / Mechanics
From taxis to buses, trucks and rescue services, humans seem likely to be eased out of these roles as autonomous/driverless vehicles are allowed on the roads. These new “autonomous people moving units” promise to be inherently safer, more fuel efficient and productive – freeing up drivers’ time. The use of shape shifting 4D-printing techniques could also result in self-repairing vehicles.
9. Travel Agents
From holidays to business travel, AI will increasingly take on the entire booking process. It will be used to collate individual, family, and group/event travel preferences, search for options, design highly personalised itineraries, make reservations, and complete the payment on our behalf.
Travel Agents may need to become application specialists; signposting the best apps for their clients. Other immersive technologies including augmented and virtual reality could provide opportunities for agents to provide a taster experience, allowing travellers to feel the bed linen, smell the bathroom fragrances, and taste the food from a hotel on the other side of the world. All as part of their client service.
10 Entrepreneurs / Leaders
Instead of looking for human partners and employees, entrepreneurs might increasingly scout for the combination of AI systems that would match his/her personality profile and range of business needs better.
One-person businesses could become more common as artificial general intelligence materialises, enabling the growth of fully automated Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) which have literally no employees.
11. Personal assistants
Future generations of Siri, Cortana and Alexa will be able to undertake personal shopping, screen incoming calls and determine which news to show us. They could also save our time by sorting and responding to email backlogs and look after our wellbeing, sharing our health and allergy information with a restaurant prior to our visit.
12. HR managers
What will employee diversity mean when many businesses include a mix of AI, physical robots, holograms, “standard issue” humans and those with artificial augmentations of their brains and bodies? Different types of AI will have different jobs to fulfil alongside and – increasingly – to supervise humans. Helping people retain their worth and dignity and resolving human-machine disputes could become priorities for HR managers.
In addition to these types of roles there are numerous ways jobs could evolve in the future. Opportunities might arise in areas such as personal trainers, care of the elderly, the performing arts, helping older workers learn about the new and disruptive technologies and possibly teachers/classroom facilitators if greater emphasis is placed on developing life skills in smaller-sized, face-to-face classes.
Whether eliminated or transformed, one reasonable take-away remains: AI is recalibrating the division of labour between humans and technology. The robots are going to be with us one way or another.