Is artificial intelligence coming for your job?
Is AI coming for your job? The short answer is, maybe. But it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems.
The prospect of computers and robots being able to do certain tasks is exciting. For example, you might be able to get a machine that can perform some of your household chores. But what if that same machine can do your job or, even worse, can do it better than you? How worried should you be that machines running artificial intelligence (AI) are coming for your job?
The answer isn’t straightforward. While it’s true that in the future some jobs are likely to be given to machines rather than people, it’s also true that new jobs will be created as a result. For example, the increase in automation has increased the need for IT professionals to provide development services. Additionally, many jobs can’t be done by machines — at least not yet.
Here we take a look at the jobs that are most and least at risk and explore what to do, either way, to make sure you remain employed.
Jobs at Risk
The following jobs and those that are similar are likely to be reduced in number in the coming years.
- Assembly line worker. Given the speed at which robotics and the applications that operate them are being developed and improved, assembly-line jobs are becoming rarer. The Motley Fool states that the U.S. has 5 million fewer manufacturing jobs now than it did in 2000.
- Customer service representative. You may already be familiar with machines taking over this function if companies you do business with steer you toward an interactive voice response (IVR) system instead of a real person on the phone or a chatbot on their website.
- Driver. Self-driving vehicle technology is being adopted by companies like delivery and ride-sharing services. No driver means no stops for rest breaks, so these companies can make more money without them.
- Medical lab worker. Machines can’t perform all medical functions, but there are many they can handle. They include running lab tests, helping to diagnose patients, and performing low-level research.
- Postal worker. Many of the tasks associated with postal work can be done by machines, including sorting, packaging, and delivery.
- Travel agent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of travel agents will decline by 26% by 2029, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Travelers have been using websites and apps to help them plan their trips for many years now, and these applications are only getting smarter.
What to Do If Your Job Is at Risk
First, remember that it’s unlikely you’ll go to work tomorrow and find a machine in your place. If you do lose your position, it will likely happen slowly and with plenty of warning. Next, keep in mind that the skills you use at your current job are likely transferrable to other positions.
Even if you are replaced by a machine, or let go from your position for another reason, it’s always possible to retrain. The notion of switching to an entirely new career might make you nervous but learning a new set of skills can be exciting and fun. It can also give you the opportunity to make more money.
Jobs, like those listed here, that require a human connection or creativity are safer.
- Hairstylist. Part of the fun of having a haircut is collaborating with your stylist on your best look. A robot simply can’t offer that level of creativity and interaction.
- Nurse. As with teachers, it’s hard to imagine receiving nursing care without the human touch. However, nurses may increasingly work with the help of machines to perform simple tasks like taking patient temperatures and delivering food.
- Social workers and therapists. The work of these professionals is fundamentally human. Algorithms can be developed to offer temporary mental health tips and help you process feelings. But, for deeper work, you need someone who can empathize with your challenges.
- Teacher. It will likely be a long time, if ever before machines can do everything teachers do, especially when it comes to offering personalized attention and managing classroom behavior. Even as more learning goes online, teachers are needed to provide ongoing assistance and guidance.
What to Do If Your Job Is Safe
While your job may be in the “safe zone” when it comes to whether or not it’s likely to be replaced by machines, your work will probably in some way be impacted by technology – if it hasn’t already. You can protect your position by staying up to date with these technologies. If your job truly is “safe,” you can take advantage of the situation by becoming even better at it by getting additional training.
So, is AI coming for your job? The short answer is, maybe. But it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. If you’re in a “safe” profession, take advantage of it and shore up your professional value even more. If you’re in a vulnerable profession, take steps now to ensure you’ll be able to make a smooth transition when the time comes.