When people imagined robot workers in the past, they often visualized a machine with a human form performing physical tasks. The reality that is currently developing includes elements of this, but the real advances are being made in artificial intelligence. As a result, the robot that takes your job in the future is much more likely to be a computer program than a physical, moving machine.
This puts a much wider range of jobs at risk from the increasing deployment of robots. Many of these jobs were once considered completely safe as they required human intuition and intelligence. This includes white collar jobs and many that require significant levels of education.
Here are 11 of the jobs that robots will take first - and you might be surprised by some of them.
1. Middle Management
This doesn't apply to all middle management job roles, particularly those that involve significant elements of people management. If the people you manage are overtaken by robots, or your role is more about working on a spreadsheet and/or analysing data, robots are likely to take over.
This is another one that doesn't apply to everyone. Jobs that should be safe include those that involve significant amounts of negotiating and cajoling of clients, particularly in business to business transactions. For other products, including many consumer products, the sales process is much simpler. Customers want to know what best suits their needs, the specifications, the benefits, the price, and the availability. Robots, known as chatbots, are already doing this in some companies. Expect the rate of robot implementation in these types of sales jobs to increase.
3. Sports and Financial Journalist
Again, this applies to a specific type of sports and financial journalist. In sports, they are the people that write reports that include the match score, scorers, MVP, and other factual information. Robots can - and do - write this content just as well as people. The same applies to financial reporters who simply read the numbers and put them into words. The sports and financial journalists who will survive the robot cull will be those that go behind the numbers to interview, commentate, and investigate.
Accountants are intelligent people who do important jobs, but much of their work is formulaic and based on numbers. In fact, cloud accounting programs already perform some of the tasks that would have traditionally been performed by an accountant. The number of tasks such computer programs can perform is likely to increase to the point where many accounting roles become obsolete.
Following on from the last point, bookkeepers are even more at threat than accountants. Increasingly, transactions and records of transactions happen digitally. The requirement for a person to oversee this is becoming less and less important.
This is a controversial one, but AI innovators are already making progress. In fact, there are documented cases where AI robots, including IBM's Watson, have been able to diagnose a condition in a patient faster than a real-life doctor. One of the reasons is the ability of the machine to consume much larger amounts of information in a shorter space of time. Healthcare is likely to always require elements of the human touch, but if machines can analyze symptoms and make more accurate and faster diagnoses, they will start to save lives. The role of doctors as we know them today will, therefore become diminished.
Surgeons are also at risk too. In fact, robots already perform some operations in some locations, including knee replacement surgeries. Not only will robots be cheaper than paying a surgeon, they are also proving to be more effective in operations that require high levels of precision. It won't be long before a surgeon is no longer necessary in the room.
8. Bank Tellers
For years, ATMs have been able to do large proportions of a bank teller's job. This was even before the recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence. There is, of course, still a proportion of society who feels more comfortable going into a bank than trusting a machine with their money. It’s hard to think, however, of anything a bank teller does that an ATM couldn't do equally well. In fact, ATMs might even be at risk when physical money becomes obsolete and all transactions are digital.
9. Financial Analysts
Financial analysts are important to many companies as they can spot trends, opportunities, and risks before they happen. The job essentially involves analysing data, however, which, as has been mentioned many times already, machines have a better capacity to do than people. As a result, the financial and banking industries will probably be the most impacted by the initial rise of robot workers.
10. Construction Workers
Robots already exist that dramatically cut the number of construction workers required on a site. These machines work specifically on repetitive jobs such as bricklaying, and they are getting more and more intelligent. They work faster and they don't get tired so can work for longer. In fact, theoretically, they could work around the clock. Construction sites are, of course, notoriously difficult to plan absolutely so there is likely to always be a need for humans to help deal with the issues that always arise. However, almost all roles could soon be significantly replaced by a robot.
11. Taxi Drivers
This is another area where there are already examples of robots taking over jobs from humans. With taxi drivers, autonomous vehicle technology makes this possible. When a car can drive on a public road anywhere in the world without the need for a driver, the role of taxi drivers will become instantly obsolete. With the companies currently working in the field of intelligent cars including many of the major car brands and tech companies like Google's parent company Alphabet, that could be sooner than you think.
If you’re in one of the jobs above or one of the other jobs that robots will soon take over, you should take action now. This involves moving into roles that are human facing, creative, or strategic in nature. They’re much safer than repetitive or analytical roles.
What other jobs fo you think are on the line? Let us know in the comments below!