Last year in the waning days of the Obama administration, the then-President’s science and economic advisers issued a report assessing the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the US economy and job market. The good news in that report was that AI would likely make American businesses more productive. The bad (potentially very bad) news was that AI directly threatened to make obsolete almost 50% of existing jobs within 20 years.
Will AI Replace Your Job?
The answer (as is so frequently the case when dealing with complex issues) is, “it depends.” For example, jobs that require routine skills and less education are at greatest risk, while those that depend on more sophisticated decision-making are, in general, safer. Automation, robotics and AI have already claimed a wide swath of low-skilled jobs in recent years, everything from assembly line workers to travel agents, switchboard operators and filing clerks. Now, with the advent of driverless cars, taxi and Uber drivers could be in jeopardy. The same could be true for workers in the trucking and fast food industries.
You’ve Got My Attention, but Is There Any Way to Check?
Actually, there is. That same report generated the creation of an online site, “Will Robots Take My Job?” Go to the site and enter a job title to see the percentage likelihood that AI will replace your job. For example, if you enter “retail salesperson,” you’ll see there’s a 92% likelihood that this job will be replaced (along with the gratuitously indifferent editorial commentary, “You are doomed”).
Based on this and similar analyses, some of the safest jobs in business, marketing and sales are the following 10:
- Human resource managers (less than 1% chance of being replaced);
- Sales managers (1.3%);
- Marketing managers (1.4%);
- Public relations managers (1.5%);
- Chief executives (1.5%);
- Event planners (3.7%);
- Writers (3.8%);
- Software developers (4.2%);
- Editors (5.5%); and
- Graphic designers (8.2%)
Which Jobs Face the Greatest Threat?
So, looks like it’s smooth sailing for CEO and manager types, as well as those with an artistic bent. Unfortunately, the waters are a lot choppier for a host of other careers, including the following 5:
- Telemarketers (99%): OK, you don’t want to see anyone lose his job, but let’s be honest, if someone has to go, this would be at the top of most people’s lists. Odds are you’re already receiving the occasional automated telemarketing call, and jobs are expected to decline by 3% over the next decade. This is a prime example of a career that requires a low level of skill and social intelligence—it also happens to be among the least profitable of marketing investments, resulting in average conversion rates of less than 10%.
- Bookkeepers (98%): bookkeeping jobs will decrease by almost 10% by 2024, and an increasing number of these jobs are already automated. The advent of software—like QuickBooks and Microsoft Office—are also hastening the demise of this once valued profession. With cost-effective alternatives, it’s simply not profitable for businesses to pay human beings for this service.
- Receptionists (96%): this one’s a shame, because almost everyone has worked for a company in which the receptionist did more to hold things together than her boss or her boss’s boss. Unfortunately, the emergence of automated phone and scheduling systems will likely spell doom for the traditional receptionist function.
- Couriers (94%): the necessity of human beings to take things from one place to another is on the wane, what with the widespread availability of drones and robots. Although the disappearance of couriers is an all-but-certainty, the job will take a little longer to get deep-sixed, with jobs expected to increase by 5% over the next 8 years.
- Proofreaders (84%): the writing’s been on the wall for some time regarding the need for people to review your writing. First there was Microsoft Word’s spell and grammar check; then came more sophisticated proofing software like Grammarly and Hemingway App. The point is, it’s a lot cheaper to use these technologies (and likely more robust ones before long) to check your writing than to hire a full- or part-time employee to do the job.
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