The jobs under threat from AI, robots and big data
Ever since audiences laid eyes on HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, popular culture has been fascinated by the idea of an all-powerful computer intelligence and its potential to collide with humans.
And The Terminator, which hit screens in 1984, only double downed on this curious fear that robots and machines of the future might, and could, turn on us.
Global consulting firm McKinsey has predicted that hundreds of millions of jobs could be lost to robots, artificial intelligence and automation by 2030.
“Very few occupations – less than five per cent – consist of activities that can be fully automated,” the report noted.
“However, in about 60 per cent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.”
But even if some sectors are destined to be heavily impacted, it does not necessarily spell the end for all workers in those fields.
Instead, workers may be given new kinds of tasks, the report said.
Here are some jobs right now under threat from AI, or likely to be in the near future.
If cars and trucks can drive themselves, there’s less need for salaried humans to sit behind the wheel of a taxi or truck.
Many of the world’s biggest automotive companies are investing billions to try and perfect this technology, and it is a fast-moving space.
Vivek Wadhwa, author of The Driver in the Driverless Car, estimates millions of driving jobs will be lost this decade, as vehicles achieve full autonomy.
Tesla’s self-driving cars have been a trailblazer in this field, though not without incident.
Autopilot technology has been assisting commercial jet pilots for years, through very basic flight handling interventions.
But Airbus may be on the brink of rolling out a much more advanced and capable version of the system, known as DragonFly.
Currently in final phases of testing, Airbus hope DragonFly will be able to take full control of the plane, if pilots cannot because of technical problems.
The system will be able to detect the issue and automatically select the most suitable airport, to redirect the plane towards it, and make an automated landing.
Some journalists and marketing and advertising copywriters will very worried by the rise of ChatGPT, an interactive chatbot powered by machine learning.
As long as users input questions and tasks into the system, ChatGPT can spit out words, stories, poems, essays and all manner of clean and concise writing.
The AI tool appears capable of writing legal contracts and other documents once penned by humans.
Created by San Francisco-based AI research lab Open AI, ChatGPT has read the collective works of humanity; It has learned patterns in language that it can recreate in seconds.
ChatGPT is not perfect, but it’s certain to only going get more proficient, which is mildly terrifying for many who make a living through words.
Since 2016, Amazon has been trialling cashier-less grocery stores.
Amazon Go, a chain of convenience stores in the US and UK, prides itself on having no lines and no checkout.
Instead, customers can amble around the store, pick up the food and goods they want and leave.
The logistics of this operation involve banks of overhead cameras, pressure-sensitive shelves and artificial intelligence.
Once people leave the store, they are billed and sent a digital receipt.
Restaurant owners looking to shave the cost of floor staff from their budgets are using QR codes to generate menus and take food orders.
This is becoming increasingly common, much to the annoyance of diners who want to ask a question, tweak a dish on the menu or ask about tonight’s special.
For now, humans are still needed to deliver food to the table.
But with advancements in robotics, its not unhinged to imagine automated systems could eventually render that aspect of waitering obsolete, too.
Chefs and sommeliers, breathe easy.
Anyone who has worked in HR will understand the slog of sifting through huge piles of hopeful candidates, trying to find “the one”.
Computer algorithms are already stepping in to lighten the load, mining the personal data of applicants to work out best fits for roles and companies.
In the same way algorithms are churning through information for HR teams, computers can unlock the value of big data held by insurance companies.
For years insurance companies have used formulas to determine how much insurance a person is qualified for and at what premium.
But advanced AI is now automating the decision-making process even more, and replacing the need for humans to calculate these important money-making moves.
Self-driving cars are one thing, but the courier sector still requires a human to take packages from the vehicle and hand it to a customer.
However, that activity is now being chipped away.
Companies have been testing deliveries using airborne drones for some time, be it online shopping behemoth Amazon or pizza companies, like Dominos.
And when deep-pocketed Amazon is involved, game-changing developments are often never far away.
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