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Will Your Dream Job Be Taken Over By Robots?

By James Abraham

Baxter, courtesy of WikiCommons

In the past, jobs were guaranteed. No matter what walk of life you came from, you could always get a job, whether it be in a factory or an office. Almost every occupation would’ve allowed you to live the american dream, a nice house, a car, and a secure future.

Today, things have changed. Jobs are few and far between, college is seen as a necessity, and worse, those who walk out with degrees do not get to just walk into companies. You may be asking,why can’t I go work in a factory? Where is my backup job? What happened to all the jobs that were there 10 years ago? The answer is simple: automation.

Throughout the past decade, computers and machines have become more dexterous, more intelligent, and, most importantly, less expensive. Don’t believe me? Take Baxter. Unlike the cold robot arms of ancient car factory, is intelligent and easy to install. The only thing a manager has to do is move its arms and make them to do the task, once. After this, Baxter can repeat the same process over and over, day and night, without fail. Thats a human job replaced in minutes.

It’s robots like Baxter that are now taking easy, back up, minimum wage jobs. You may be thinking: Well, that’s ok I can get a job in an office building. Unfortunately, white collar jobs are also being taken by the machines. For example, according to the Stanford News Service, the University’s communications department publication, computer scientists at the school have created an algorithm capable of identifying skin cancer with the same accuracy as qualified dermatologists.

Now you may be wondering; “Well what jobs CAN I get?” Many jobs are still safe from machines. Manual occupations that are safe include forestry, vehicle maintenance, and even emergency services. The reasons these tough jobs are safe, is because they involve chaotic environments. Machines still struggle to navigate rough terrain, and lack the dexterity to take apart a fuel manifold.

If you’ve decided that you’d rather work in a less labor intensive environment, such as an office, avoid repetitive jobs at all costs. It only takes a simple program to analyze large volumes of financial information. Instead, look for positions in management, or self-employment, or as Robert Bolt, a founder at d.tech who once taught economics, put it, “Everything is pushing obviously towards knowledge work, so that’s really what it’s about. As automation continues to move forward, it moves people out of doing physical labor into doing mental labor.” Ultimately, if you choose the air-conditioned path, remember to build skills in leadership and adaptability, which will allow you to compete against even the most efficient of our mechanical brethren.

Remember, you must stay ahead of the curve. Every year, computers become more advanced. A job that is safe now, may become vulnerable in the future, as technology progresses.

You can avoid having the rug being pulled from under you by keeping up to date on technology news, looking at computer trends, and re-evaluating your job security. It may be possible that automation will allow us to live in the world of the Jetsons. But until then, stay on your toes.

If you feel like checking your chances, take a look at NPRs job calculator.

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