Can AI Replace Your Job?

 While AI won't replace all jobs, what seems to be certain is that AI will change the nature of work, with the only question being how rapidly and how profoundly automation will alter the workplace. 

The evidence of which jobs will be supplanted is emerging. Amazon has  launched Amazon Go, a cashier-free supermarket where customers just take items from the shelves and walk out. What this means for the more than three million people in the US who works as cashiers remains to be seen.

Amazon again is leading the way in using robots to improve efficiency inside its warehouses. These robots carry shelves of products to human pickers who select items to be sent out. In fact, Amazon has more than 100,000 bots in its fulfilment centers, with plans to add many more. But Amazon also stresses that as the number of bots have grown, so has the number of human workers in these warehouses. However, Amazon and small robotics firms are working to automate the remaining manual jobs in warehouses, so it's not a given that manual and robotic labor will continue to grow hand-in-hand.

Fully autonomous self-driving vehicles aren't a reality yet, but by some predictions the self-drive truck industry alone is poised to take over 1.7 million jobs in the next decade, even without considering the impact on couriers and taxi drivers.

Yet some of the easiest jobs to automate won't even require robotics. At present there are millions of people working in administration, entering and copying data between systems, chasing and booking appointments for companies. As software gets better at automatically updating systems and flagging the information that's important, so the need for administrators will fall.

Reasons To Be Cheerful

For some commentators, AI augments rather than replacing workers. They argue there will be a commercial imperative to not replace people outright, as an AI-assisted worker, think a human concierge with an AR headset that tells them exactly what a client wants before they ask for it, will be more productive or effective than an AI working on its own.

Among AI experts there's a broad range of opinion about how quickly artificially intelligent systems will surpass human capabilities. Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute has asked hundreds of machine learning experts to predict AI’s capabilities, over the coming decades.

They estimated there was a relatively high chance that AI beats humans at all tasks within 45 years and automates all human jobs within 120 years. Notable dates included AI writing essays that could pass for being written by a human by 2026, truck drivers being made redundant by 2027, AI surpassing human capabilities in retail by 2031, writing a best-seller by 2049, and doing a surgeon's work by 2053.

10 Jobs That Are The Most Likely To Be Replaced 

1. Receptionists - An automated touchscreen system or humanoid AI can easily replace the role of a receptionist. This is already happening in many modern companies that can afford the technology. In fact, in two hospitals in Belgium, robots now do reception duties. The receptionist robot which stands at 4ft tall with a round head and screen on his chest is able to recognize the human voice in 20 languages and can detect if he’s talking to a man, woman, or child.

2. Factory Worker - Millions of factory jobs are now lost to machines. For years, robots have been replacing factory workers in the field of construction and manufacturing, especially in developed economies. Certainly, it won’t be far in the future when all companies can afford to use machines.

3. Couriers - Aside from the manufacturing industry, the logistics and transport sectors will be most affected when robotic automation booms in the future years. Couriers are now slowly being replaced by drones and robots capable of traveling by air or wheels. One example is Starship Technologies, which recently launched their tiny self-driving robots which can deliver goods from various diners in Redwood City to its customers within a two-mile radius.

4. Taxi and bus drivers - Thanks to Tesla, semi-automated driving is already here and it won’t be long before fully autonomous vehicles take over public transport and taxis, although in places such as India, the government is banning self-driving cars to protect jobs. Pilots, however, are safe for now – whilst self-flying technology exists, passengers will need time to get comfortable be flown by a computer.

5. Soldiers - No more wasted human lives on the battlefield, soon robots will take over and fight for us. During America’s war on terror in Iraq, robot-soldiers in the form of weaponised drones were already being used by the U.S. Army to assassinate enemies.

6. Doctors - The rise of robot doctors is now closer to reality than fiction. Today, robo-surgeons can perform various medical operations starting from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. Before long, diagnosing patients based on their symptoms will be done through a chat bot

7. Security Guards - Robo-guards are already replacing humans when it comes to protecting and securing business locations. Take, for instance, Yelp’s security robot, who is capable of inspecting the whole building with its high-definition camera. The robot also has a directional mic and infrared sensor that can detect any suspicious sound or movement.

8. Sales Manager - AI is now being used to create content strategy and email marketing playbooks for marketers. They could also analyse sales calls quicker than any sales manager. In fact, according to one study, telemarketing is predicted to decline by 2014 largely because of robo-callers that take the place of telemarketers.

9. Accountant - Finance jobs may soon be replaced by AIs which could compute and analyse data faster. Various research has shown that robots are better in accounting tasks than humans. Robo-accountants are currently being developed with confidence because unlike driverless cars which could cause deadly consequences for small errors, robot accountants don’t carry that big risk since data can easily be recovered.

10. Farmer - Robot farmers are currently harvesting crops at impressive rates. In Kyoto, Japan, the world’s first robot lettuce farm was recently opened and includes an all-robot farming staff. The robo-farmers are responsible for harvesting, planting and caring for the crops.

As with every technological shift, new jobs will be created to replace those lost. What is uncertain is if these new roles will be created quickly enough to offer employment to those displaced, and whether the newly unemployed will have the necessary skills or temperament to fill these emerging roles.

Vanna:            ZDNet:       Oxford University / Future of Humanity Inst:

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