A day doesn’t go by without an article in the press about AI and the impact on jobs. The chief economist at the Bank of England believes 80m jobs in the US & 15m in the UK could be taken over by robots, and a recent study by McKinsey found that around 30% of tasks in 60% of occupations could be automated through AI.
Of course, not all jobs are created equally. In an Oxford University whitepaper called ‘The Future of Employment’ they examined 702 common occupations and found that some jobs – tax, telemarketing and sports referees – are at more risk than others. In this article we run through the top occupations at risk of being taken over by smart machines.
Author of ‘Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future’, Martin Ford, explains that jobs that are most at risk are those which “are on some level routine, repetitive and predictable”.
Telemarketing, for example, which is highly routine, has a 99% probability of automation according to The Future of Employment report.
Bean counters should also be concerned, especially those who work in preparing tax returns. The very nature of the role – systematically processing large amounts of predictable data – lends itself well to being automated – this role also faces a 99% chance of being fully manged by machines in the future. In fact, it’s already happening – H&R Block, one of America’s largest tax preparation providers, is using IBM’s artificial intelligence platform – Watson – in favour of humans.
According to a recent report by Deloitte, more than 100,000 jobs in the legal sector have a high chance of being automated in the next 20 years. Of course, we’re not talking about the slick lawyers who stand in front of the judge, but robots are likely to take over the more repetitive tasks that are carried out by legal assistants and paralegals. There are already a handful of law firms in the states using AI technology. One of those technologies is run by ROSS Intelligence, a company that has built software that uses IBM’s Watson technology to comb through huge batches of data and can sort through case law in a matter of seconds, something that would normally take humans hours upon hours to review.
Automation is spreading far and wide, even fast food ‘chefs’ could become extinct with an 81% probability of having their jobs replaced by robots like Flippy – an AI powered kitchen assistant which is already flipping burgers in a number of restaurants.
CEO of Deutsche Bank, John Cryan, has predicted a bonfire of finance industry jobs as automation takes hold across the FS sector. Roles in finance where knowledge required is systematic will soon disappear. And it will happen irrespective of how highly trained or how experienced the human equivalent may currently be.
A report by consultancy firm, PwC, suggests that over 2.25 million jobs were at high risk of automation in wholesale and retailing, 1.2 million were under threat in manufacturing, 1.1 million in administrative and support services and 950,000 in transport and storage.
This all may seem a bit doom and gloom, but there are plenty of sceptics who think that AI will not take over as quick as we think. For example, U.S. productivity growth has been slow, exactly the opposite of what one would expect if robots were taking over.
In addition, many believe advances in AI could end up focusing mostly on specific tasks rather than entire jobs, augmenting rather than completely replacing humans. A recent poll run by telecoms giant, BT, found that a third of businesses believe that AI and automation will actually generate new opportunities and create even more jobs – so keep your chin up!