By 2020, 85 percent of interactions with customers will probably be will be handled by artificial intelligence, according to the 2019 Gartner, Inc. CIO Survey. The survey suggests most of the remaining 15 percent of customer service positions will vanish by 2031.
In just four years, the number of organizations using AI has jumped from ten percent to 37 percent, according to the survey. That’s a 270 percent increase with the rate of growth tripling in the past year. The Gartner survey includes data collected from more than 3,000 organizations in mix of industries from 89 countries.
With AI steadily advancing so steadily in industries worldwide, how do you prepare for the job skills of the future and what fields should you avoid? Here are seventeen career fields that may be automated soon.
- Retail: As online shopping increases, fewer positions will be needed for brick-and-mortar stores. At those locations, many positions such as cashiers and stocking will be replaced by automation, as seen with the rise in self-check-out lanes. In online retail, robots and automation will continue replacing workers in warehouse, inventory, stocking and shipping positions. Amazon was using 100,000 robots by 2017, and plans to continue investing in robotics.
- Customer service: Many positions for receptionists, telemarketers and other customer service positions have already been automated such as: robo-calls, automated appointment reminders, automated phone message systems and online customer service chat bots. It has become more widespread for consumers to check themselves into everything from medical appointments to flights. Administrative assistance positions will also decrease as software and automation take over more tasks.
- Drivers: Taxi drivers, ride-share drivers, long-haul truckers and other vehicle operators may need to find new fields as these jobs switch to automated vehicles. Although the technology is still in the development and testing phase, giants like Tesla, Google’s Waymo and Uber are racing to get the edge in the technology and they aren’t the only players. As of March 2018, California had issued permits to 52 companies to test automated vehicles, including Toyota, Volvo, Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.
- Delivery: Delivery of packages, food and more will probably switch to automated bots before long. Amazon launched delivery robots in Seattle as a test program in January 2019. The cooler-sized robots scoot down the sidewalk avoiding obstacles to deliver their cargo to homes and businesses. Other companies testing delivery-bots include Kiwi, which delivers goods on a college campus, Savioke which delivers supplies and food in hospitals and hotels, and Starship Technologies which is testing food delivery.
- Translators: Although not perfect, artificial intelligence has made enormous strides in the past several years in automated translation. Expect it to continue improving until it puts the majority of translators out of work.
- Copyeditors and writers: Spell-checking programs have been showing their superior spelling and grammar skills for years, but now automation has improved to the point where even the most elite proofreaders will soon be replaced. Artificial intelligence is also improving abilities to write anything from news and web articles to books and even poems, though it may still be a little clunky. The Washington Post already uses the Heliograf bot to write simple news articles and assigns human reporters to more complex stories.
- Social Media Managers: Artificial intelligence can write realistically human comments and post to social media, coordinate posts across platforms, respond to emails and scan and flag questionable content more quickly and efficiently than a human.
- Bookkeeping clerks and accountants: Bookkeeping and accounting tasks can now be automated to a large extent and AI continues finding ways to improve efficiencies for companies. Expect these positions to begin decreasing or changing in scope of duties as AI steps in.
- Landscaping: Robots are already capable of autonomously mowing yards and weeding gardens.
- Cleaning: Walmart will use robots to clean floors in their stores beginning in January 2019 and many businesses already using robotic vacuums. While humans will still handle some cleaning tasks, expect robots to take over more janitorial services soon.
- Security: Artificial intelligence has proven it can scan images and videos of people, cargo and luggage for suspicious items and activities more quickly, efficiently and accurately than humans. With improved facial recognition software, AI could soon be identifying wanted individuals faster than a security guard, police officer or airport security agent can blink.
- Warehouse positions: Any positions that use repetitive skills could soon be taken over by robots, as many already have been.
- Chefs: Automated robot kitchens such as Moley can prepare full meals in just three minutes, and now startups like COOKI are developing robotic arms that can slice, dice and cook dinner for you. There are even vending machines that will cook a hot meal for you.
- Healthcare assistants: Robots are already completing a multitude of tasks in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and retirement homes. Robots deliver food and health supplies and handle medical waste.
- Pharmacists and pharmacy techs: Robots are being used in hospitals and pharmacies to dispense package and deliver prescription drugs.
- Radiologists and medical testing technicians: A computer using AI can scan and evaluate test results such as MRI and ultrasound results and identify abnormalities with a greater speed and accuracy than human technicians.
- Surgeons: Surgeons have been using robots in surgery for some time, but advancements in robotics and AI have shown that autonomous bots can perform surgery more precisely than humans. A series of 2017 tests compared surgeons operating manually, surgeons controlling robots and surgery performed by autonomous robots. The autonomous robots were able to make more precise incisions in terms of length, pressure and desired cut, and caused less damage to surrounding tissues.
- Any position using simplistic, repetitive tasks: Artificial intelligence excels at completing routine, simple tasks, especially in a controlled, fixed environment, and can often do it faster and sometimes more precisely than a human.
So where does that leave you? While many of these jobs won’t disappear entirely, they will change in focus and skillsets needed.
“If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future,” Andrew Ng, Stanford Professor wrote in the Harvard Business Review. If this describes your job or future position, it may be time to look into other career skills.
So what skills should you develop?
So far, AI is not good at tasks that require distinctly human skills such as: empathy, strategic thinking, management, direct interpersonal contact with people such as childcare and social work, compassionate communication, creativity, strategic planning, “out-of-the-box” thinking and dealing with unique and unexpected tasks. In your future tasks, aiming to develop your soft skills and find the “human touch” may be your best bet to ensure your future job access.