Uber is testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh. This technological advancement is projected to result in 3.5 million truck drivers out of work by 2026. Self-checkout kiosks, as annoying as they are, are becoming the norm at drugstores, grocery stores and big box retailers like Walmart. As we embrace these technological advancements, it’s hard not to feel a sense of unease at the vast number of jobs disappearing.
While you may think automation is only a threat to unskilled workers, think again. In India and Brazil, machines are already starting to do the work of primary care doctors (because there aren’t enough doctors available in those countries). Mathematically, they follow evidence – and are much more likely to make the right diagnosis.
Ever since man invented the wheel we’ve been losing jobs to automation, so it’s really nothing new. But drivers, cashiers, servers, and doctors – all at the same time? This feels like a whole new ballgame. Forrester research predicts the loss of 12 million U.S. jobs to automation by 2025.
So who is and isn’t at risk?
Obviously, the biggest at-risk professions today are the ones that are highly repetitive and use some kind of technology. Loan officers, receptionists and information clerks are at the top of the list, followed by paralegals, retail clerks and financial advisors. Use this tool to see how your job stands up to artificial intelligence.
Even if your job is in jeopardy, and that may be a bad thing for you, there is good news. Automation elevates the overall standard of living, encourages literacy rates to rise, extends the average life span, and contributes to lower crime rates.
When you think about it, artificial intelligence replaced gas station attendants decades ago. And we survived. No, we thrived. Sure it was tough on gas station attendants at the time, but this technological advancement resulted in more parents encouraging their children to go to college. And over time, it pushed hundreds of thousands of people who may have become gas station attendants into professional jobs, adding more value to society and more money to their wallets.
So if you’re forced to start thinking about a new career, think of it as a good thing. Or, at the very least, as taking one for the team.