Will Robots Take My Job?

Amber Shiflett |
additionalText.categories: Working

Every time you watch an old science fiction movie, there’s usually a robot running around doing the same kind of things that people do. That was how Hollywood imagined that robots of the future might look and act. But now that we’re actually living in that future, we get to see how right or wrong they were. As it turns out, robots do exist and they are replacing people in a lot of work areas, especially in factories and places where the work is too dangerous. 

But we’re still a long way off from the kinds of artificially intelligent walking, talking robots that can do anything we can do...right? 

Well, yes and no. New technology is created every day in our modern world, with new breakthroughs always around the corner. Technology makes things easier. It’s a fact of life. That’s why it’s everywhere you go—at home, at school, in our hands as we walk around. And at work. Which is where the problem comes in. 

The future of work

New jobs are geared with technology in mind, while companies try to find ways to automate existing jobs as much as possible. All that tech costs a lot of money upfront, but it saves businesses money in the long run. A robot or some sort of computerized device never quits (or need to be fired), never complains, never goes on strike or says “no” to a task. Human workers, on the other hand, are pretty high maintenance by comparison! 

And frankly there’s a lot of jobs out there that are physically too demanding on the human body. For example, jobs like working on an assembly line where the person must stand on their feet all day doing repetitive motion work that can be bad for the joints. Human beings weren’t created to do that kind of daily grind for twenty years or more. But a robot that’s programmed with the know-how to do such tasks? That thing can do such tasks all day, week after week, year after year. 

So that’s good, isn’t it? It is but remember that the risk of automation means the need for human labor starts to go down. Machines that do the jobs of humans put those humans out of work once it becomes cheaper to use the machine. And each day it’s getting more and more possible for robots and machines to do almost all the simple stuff we can do. 

Which jobs are at risk? 

It’s basically a robot revolution. They’re everywhere in workplaces that use manual workers and other types of traditional workers, and that’s leading to job losses in some types of work. Without proper retraining, those workers could find themselves in a real bind! So sure, this development of technology is convenient because it helps us with problem-solving how to do dangerous or repetitive work without putting real humans at risk. 

But what kind of new skills will workers of the future need to stay employable? 

Well, for starters, let’s look at the types of jobs that are being replaced by robots and machines. It’s not all manual labor. What about ATMs? These things have been around for a while now, but before ATMs existed people had to go into a bank and deal with a bank teller. Now everyone just goes to the ATM. 

What about self-checkout at the grocery store? A few years ago, these were rare but now it’s becoming pretty common. Sometimes you can go into a store and there’s no cashier working, it’s just self-checkout! Those cash register clerks will really start to feel the crunch in the next decade. 

What else? Each year in the United States, we see Google making strides in all its industries. Take Google’s search engine for example. You can instantly find prices for airline tickets from dozens of airlines...a job that used to require a travel agent. 

Or what about Google’s self-driving cars? Seems like it’s far into the future, but actually it isn’t. Google’s got intelligent sensors on vehicles that can safely drive on busy streets without having an accident. Those are being testing right now. A few years ago that would have sounded like far-off science fiction! So how long until public transportation buses are driven by computers? Or taxis? Imagine calling for an Uber and there’s no driver in the seat!

How about white-collar jobs, are those safe? Nope, not necessarily. People who used to go to accountants can now use software apps. Even doctors are now assisted by robotic assistants. But yes, probably the hardest-hit areas will be blue collar jobs in retail—cooks, servers, cleaners and other jobs that will be more-or-less easy to automate. 

Which jobs will exist for people in the future? 

Some predict that within a few short years the need for human labor will drop quite a lot. In fact, up to 90% of all jobs are impacted by technology, artificial intelligence and the impact of automation in one way or another already. Manufacturing jobs are probably the most at risk. 

So what’s safe? For starters, jobs requiring the most soft skills. Robots and AI can’t simulate all professions such as consultants, counselors, therapists or social workers. They’re also not good with jobs like marketing, business development or other human resources. In other words, robots aren’t great at doing jobs that deal directly with people and their emotions! Skills like emotional intelligence, creativity and leadership will keep humans being in demand. 

Also, as you might’ve guessed, with all that automation there’s a need for maintenance, programmers, coders, etc. The robots aren’t at the point (yet!) where they can build themselves, program themselves, fix themselves or evolve themselves. Those types of jobs aren’t exactly hourly jobs, though, are they? 

The types of blue-collar jobs that should still need regular people are going to be jobs where a certain amount of human-level ingenuity and creativity come into play. Robots may start kicking out burgers and fries, but they’ll never master the nuances of cooking specialty items. Self-checkout kiosks may replace cashiers, but people will still be needed to watch out for shoplifters. Amazon drones may deliver packages to your doorstep, but somebody still have to find those items at the warehouse and box them up. 

So the best jobs will be at the intersection where technology and consumers meet, but a living, breathing person is necessary to fill a particular gap. There’s always a need for people in the world. We aren’t going to totally replace ourselves. But we can’t compete with technology. We just have to adapt ourselves around it and support it...just like it supports us!

Where are these hourly jobs between technology and consumers? On Snagajob of course! Find the job that’s right for you!