Whilst the cataclysmic ‘replaced by robots’ job warnings may well be overstated in the short term, the pace of change will inevitably quicken. Whether eliminated or transformed, one reasonable take-away remains: AI is recalibrating the division of labour between humans and technology. To help put the potential changes in an everyday context, here is a hotlist of currently human job roles that could be transformed or eliminated completely by the use AI and robotics over the period from 2020 to 2030.
From pharmaceuticals to new materials and electronic devices – AI software is increasingly being used to conduct more and more of the R&D value chain. The use of AI allows researchers to conduct more trials faster and compare real-time data with historic and predictive consumer profiles to better target the solutions.
Automation forecasts today are already causing anxiety and stress. When mass layoffs start, society could see mental health issues rise to crisis level. Addressing these issues would be fundamental priorities for life coaches and therapists. Many might choose to become coaches and therapists with the disappearance of their former roles.
The data shared by consumers would be automatically analysed by AI in real time. This feedback loop would create dynamic marketing campaigns able to optimise themselves based on each response. Offers would be tailored to the individual according to both the preference and the time of day when they are most likely to make a purchase.
Chatbots are already making sales calls, helping customers make choices and solving callers’ problems across a range of industries. This will increase, but there might still be delicate and complex issues that would be handled better with a human touch.
Future generations of Siri, Cortana and Alexa should be able to undertake personal shopping, screen incoming calls and determine which news to show us. They could also save our time by sorting and responding to email backlogs and look after our wellbeing sharing our health and allergy information with a restaurant prior to our visit.
AI would enable real-time analysis of every transaction as it happens – thus reducing the potential for error and fraud and enabling a continuously updated set of accounts without human intervention. The ability to track and analyse every commercial and social interaction would create new opportunities for suitably skilled and reputable accountants who can leverage their trustworthiness and experience to become high-level business and financial advisors.
Instead of looking for human partners and employees, entrepreneurs might increasingly scout for a combination of AI systems. One-person businesses could be more common as artificial general intelligence materializes – enabling the growth of fully automated Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) which have literally no employees.
Many management roles could disappear as the workforce they supervise gets automated. The priority will shift from managing the present to creating the future, designing how work gets done with an in-depth appreciation of the limitations and advantages of AI and human workers alike.
Investment bots will have the capacity to analyse ever larger volumes of current and historic trading data, news, company updates, and market sector information in a fraction of a second to make investment decisions.
AI could become the personal shopper of the future – learning our desires and requirements and over time making purchases with less need to check in with us. Shopping could become a task that no longer require humans to allocate their precious time to do it. Opportunities might also arise in areas such as personal trainers, elderly care, the performing arts, helping older workers learn about the new and disruptive technologies and possibly teachers/classroom facilitators if greater emphasis is placed on developing life skills in smaller-sized, face-to-face classes.
Ultimately, today’s business leaders acknowledge that the robots are coming; it is just that we don’t yet know where they may have their biggest impacts.