Are you ready for the robot revolution? While we may be years away from “Terminator”-style androids, many robots and computer programs are already here, and they’re stealing our jobs. Companies may soon have to decide between you and a faster, cheaper droid. Check out these five obsolete jobs that are already on the chopping block.
When handling finances, or when getting a mortgage, it’s natural to seek out professional advice. But over half of all people in the U.S. don’t think they can afford a living, breathing financial advisor. More importantly, human financial advisors tend to make the occasional error. Between personal biases, the tendency to see patterns where they don’t exist and plain old human oversight, there are many opportunities for them to lose your assets.
And this leaves the door open for robots. Robot financial advisors are already here – although they only make up a portion of the nation’s advisors. Soon, computers could easily be programmed to assess your financial situation, calculate all the risks involved and then give advice specific to your situation.
But what about the personal touch, you say? As of right now, humans are – for the most part – more empathetic than our computerized counterparts. But that gap will likely begin to close in the next few decades.
Yes, we see the irony in this section, but professional bloggers could be written out of the history books in a matter of decades. For instance, the company Automated Insights created the program Wordsmith, which can write simple news stories based on data such as financial and stock market information. In a segment from NPR, business reporter Scott Horsley tested his skills against the might of the Wordsmith program. Both man and machine were tasked with writing about the Denny’s earnings report. Here are the results of their articles:
Even at a first glance, it’s pretty clear that the story on the left was written by the machine. It has data and makes sense, but there’s not much pizazz. Horsley, on the other hand, a lifelong Denny’s customer, filled his story with Denny’s puns and humor, which naturally gave it a more human feel than Wordsmith could muster. But according to the full report by NPR, the Wordsmith tone is programmable, meaning that, with the help of Automated Insights’ engineers, it could “study thousands of NPR stories, learn NPR’s style, and start slinging its own breakfast-food metaphors.”
In addition, the Wordsmith program has a significant speed advantage over us humans. The program took a mere two minutes to create the article above, while Horsley took over seven minutes (which is impressive for a human). This difference might not seem that significant, but while that computer was racing the NPR reporter, it was also able to write thousands of other stories simultaneously.
While there’s still room to grow before complex articles can be written by programs like Wordsmith, bloggers and journalists may need to look for new work in the coming years.
Among disappearing jobs, the slow demise of telemarketers in the U.S. may be the most well-known. Between the cheaper workforce in foreign countries and automated telemarketers that make “robocalls,” the career options in this field are becoming increasingly limited. Robocalls, often used by large companies, are becoming more advanced, now able to respond to specific words and requests used by customers. At this point, though, there are still some opportunities for people, especially when a customer repeatedly says, “I want to speak with a human,” into the phone. But again, technology is bridging this gap. For instance, check out this article and video about a robot that can learn words and add to the conversation in real time. Customers may someday be asking to speak with a robot instead of a person. For now, however, if you want to contact a Home Loan Expert at Quicken Loans, you’ll be talking to a human, and not a bot.
If you drive for a taxi company or for a transportation network company like Uber or Lyft, your days behind the wheel may be numbered. According to an article in “The Telegraph,” Uber is already testing out driverless taxis. The company has started equipping a hybrid-powered Ford Fusion with laser sensors, high-resolution cameras and radar, allowing it to do regular automated trial runs around Uber’s tech center in Pittsburgh.
And taxis are just the beginning. It’s only a matter of time before bus drivers, postal carriers and even pizza delivery guys are replaced by cheaper and safer automatic cars. This is sure to create a significant change in the job market, as there are nearly 4 million jobs in the U.S. alone that require professional drivers.
Much like telemarketers, travel agents have been fading out of the workforce for a while now, but technology is sure to put the nail in the coffin in the coming years. Much of what travel agents do can be accomplished via websites like TripAdvisor and Expedia – not to mention basic search engine functions from Google and Bing – which are already providing these services. And since there’s less human involvement, it’s often the least expensive alternative.
That’s not to say that travel agents are completely down and out. As of this year, travel agents are still making – on average – $37,730 annually. One way that they stay above water is by adding a personal touch, such as offering upgrades that machines can’t. For instance, in a “USA Today” article Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel, says that she makes a “point of knowing the general manager of the hotel where they might be staying, and I usually call the GM the night before one of my clients arrives and see if they might be upgraded.” Perks like this are specific to a human being, at least for now.
But even still, the travel agent business has experienced significant strain, especially since that whole “Internet fad” took off. In time, the remaining travel agents may have to pack their bags and look for work elsewhere.
These jobs may be coming to an end, but changes in technology are creating some new career opportunities as well. If you’re interested in learning more about careers and technology, subscribe to the Zing blog below.
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