Accountants, chefs and taxi drivers beware: the robots are coming

This article was published on the Australian Financial Review website on May 28th, 2015.  It was written as part of my internship at the Australian Financial Review.

Robot couple Xiaolan and Xiaotao carry trays of food at a restaurant in Jinhua, China. Reuters

Robot couple Xiaolan and Xiaotao carry trays of food at a restaurant in Jinhua, China. Reuters

The robots are coming.

Some of the the tech industry’s best-known names – for example, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Microsoft’s Bill Gates – believe our jobs will be replaced by machines sooner or later.

Wozniak told The Australian Financial Review earlier this year that “computers are going to take over from humans one day“. And new research backs up the tech guru’s claim.

So who will be replaced first?

The latest research, a study by Oxford Unversity, compared more than 700 jobs and found that everyone from accountants to taxi drivers and chefs could be replaced by robots in the near future. Nearly half the total employment in the United States consists of work that is at risk of being being performed by robots in the future, according to the study. Last year Australia’s Department of Industry also looked into which jobs humans will lose out on, coming the more conservative conclusion that just 500,000 jobs in Australia would go to robots. Still, it’s not exactly good news. And technological advancements mean job replacement suddenly looks less like the Terminator and more like an intelligent robot that could potentially write this story – although as Bill Gates has pointed out, robots doing “a lot of jobs for us… should be positive if we manage it well“.

If we’ve got you worried, try using NPR’s Planet Money tool to test your job stability.

Here are a few selected jobs and the likelihood they’ll be automated:

  • Telemarketers: 99.0 per cent
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 94.5 per cent
  • Accountants and Auditors: 93.5 per cent
  • Taxi Drivers: 89.4 per cent
  • Computer Programmers: 48.1 per cent
  • Judges: 40.1 per cent
  • Actors: 37.4 per cent
  • Financial Analysts: 23.3 per cent
  • Civil Engineers: 1.9 per cent
  • Psychologists: 0.4 per cent

Cover photo source: Munchies

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