Man meets robot: the jobs set to disappear due to automation

Man meets robot

Robots will soon be able to do considerably more tasks than in the past. In many cases, they are set to replace people in the future. Yet by no means all professions are threatened by automation in the foreseeable future.

A recent study by Oxford University estimates that in the future, it will be possible for nearly 50% of all white-collar jobs to be performed by robots. This is why Bill Gates proposes levying taxes on robots – which is not a new idea. A “machine tax” was introduced in Austria in the 1970s.

Who should be most worried? Who can afford to relax? To find out where you stand, read the following summary taken from an article by US tech guru Shelly Palmer:1

The five white-collar jobs that robots will take first:

  1. Middle management. The compilation and evaluation of analysis regarding sales, marginal costs, processes and other operating figures offers unimaginable potential for digitization. 
  2. Commodity salespeople. Entire sales processes, from request for proposal, to quotation, order and fulfillment, can be carried out digitally in future. Only in cases of real innovation will human salespeople be needed to explain the new concept and sell it.
  3. Report writers. Good writing is challenging. But not report writing. Today, over 70% of all financial reports from listed US firms are already produced by automated online solutions. Readers rarely notice the difference.
  4. Bookkeepers. Robo-accounting is in its infancy, but it is making rapid progress and has enormous potential. 
  5. Doctors. Surprised? Online medical advice is reporting exponential global growth. But robots are also increasingly present in medical practices. In Singapore, more than 90% of all surgical interventions are assisted by robo-surgeons.

Now for the five jobs robots will take last:

  1. Elementary school teachers. We want to raise our children to become good people. Humans will always be able to do this better than machines.
  2. Professional athletes. We can build robots that outperform any athlete. But what would be the point? 
  3. Politicians. Computers can perhaps arrive at better decisions for all, but hammering out compromises and weighing various interests will always remain normative. No society will want to hand over this process to machines.
  4. Judges. Judging between what was subjectively designed and what objectively occurred is another skill that humans will not want to delegate to robots.
  5. Mental health professionals. These too are irreplaceable, since despite all advances in artificial intelligence, humans are still better equipped to understand other humans.