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10 Careers at Risk of Being Replaced by Automation

        posted by , June 01, 2011

It is one of the unstoppable trends of technology — automation of human tasks. Think your job can't be automated? You might be surprised what can be done. These 10 careers are at risk of eventual automation:

1. Sales

It is already clear that young generations of consumers don't need a handshake and a smile to make major purchases. The days of big, highly paid sales forces is numbered. Organizations seeking to automate, measure and monitor requisition processes will require suppliers to cut manual steps. Negotiation will be algorithmic.

Commission sales careers will go the way of the chimney sweep. Marketing will remain a important function.

2. Programmer / Software Tester

In the future the main manual touch points in the software development lifecycle will be requirements management and architecture. Tasks such as development, testing and deployment will be highly automated.

software development

3. Repairs

Repair jobs such as mechanic, appliance repair and computer technician are at high risk of being replaced with self-service repairs. Devices of the future will be more componentized and have self-diagnosing functions. Components will be disposable.

Your refrigerator is broken? No problem we have already detected that your component-A is broken — it is in the mail. Please plug it in when you receive it. Your old component-A can be placed in recycling.

4. Project Manager

Computers are perfectly capable of planning, organizing, managing resources and facilitating issue management. Project management as we know it today will eventually become highly automated.

5. Human Resource Manager

Human resources has already experienced a self-service shift. This trend will continue — more and more HR functions will be automated. Even performance management has potential for automation.

6. Pilot

Flight controls are already somewhat automated with fly-by-wire systems. Aircraft are amongst the most reliable machines — making human error the most significant air safety factor.

Algorithms have great potential to improve air safety. Even in an emergency — algorithms will eventually be more trusted than human operation. Pilots are likely to go the way of the elevator operator.

7. Cashier

Self service check out is already a reality for many retail operators.

8. Surgeon / Doctor

Computer assisted surgery is already a reality. Robots have great potential to be effective surgeons.

Other medical functions such as diagnosis, advice and treatment are also potential targets of automation. As technology continues to advance at a exponential pace — society will seek to eliminate human error in areas important to health and safety.

9. Pharmacist

Robots are capable of dispensing medications and information systems can provide medication advice and detect interactions.

10. Accountant

Accounting requires interpretations that must be evaluated by humans. In future rule clarifications and data improvements will lead to increased automation. Businesses have been resistant to the automation of accounting because it is thought that creative accounting can save money and improve financial appearances. However, increased regulatory pressures may reduce this benefit in future.

Don't Worry be Happy

It takes decades for careers to be replaced with automation. Automation has the potential to make business more efficient and improve health and safety. Historically automation has relieved humans of repetitive tasks — creating the knowledge based economy we know today.

In the future — some knowledge work may also be replaced with automation. However, this will allow people to focus on truly human tasks such as ethics, creativity, social interaction etc...

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Which career is the least likely to face automation??
   Programmer / Software Tester
   Project Manager
   Human Resource Manager
   Surgeon / Doctor
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