What jobs are being taken over by robots and computers?
For companies looking to save money, the idea of being able to replace a human with a computer and robot is enticing. A robot can work 24/7 with little to no pay or benefits, and is often faster than a human with fewer errors. Robots can also be helpful to employees as they can easily do jobs that are repetitive, monotonous, or dangerous and leave the interesting jobs to the humans.
Over the last few years, robots and computers have made tremendous leaps in their performance and capabilities and have replaced more human jobs. Below is a full list of jobs that have been replaced, are being replaced, or are being assisted by robots and computers.
Assembly-line and factory workers
Assembly and industrial robots controlled by computers can assemble cars and other products and have been since the late 1950's. Today, almost all large manufacturing jobs use robots to make millions of different products efficiently and at a low cost.
Many robots, like the Baxter and Sawyer from Rethink Robotics, can be programmed by anyone. They do not require a skilled technician to program the robot to perform the tasks it is being programmed to perform. As robots like these become smarter and cheaper, more companies are going to use them in their environment.
Bus drivers, Taxi drivers, and truck drivers
Self-driving cars are becoming more of a reality. With technologies already being used today, like assisted driving in Tesla cars and automated Uber test cars, more companies and services will begin using this technology. As self-driving cars start being used more, the potential of jobs lost is staggering as it could replace millions of bus drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and other transportation jobs.
Companies like Cat are even working on autonomous underground, dozing, drilling, and hauling solutions for mining and construction that could reduce these types of jobs. Farming companies like John Deere also have tractors and lawn mowers that are autonomous or can assist in driving.
Phone operators, telemarketers, and receptionists
We've all been on the receiving end of an automated call, like a telemarketing call. As voice recognition and speech synthesis become more advanced, it gets easier for companies to implement these systems and harder for the receiver to know if they're talking to a human.
Self-checkout lines are already found in most grocery stores today. Although these computers are still often managed or watched by a human, that human is taking the place of other people that used to be a cashier.
Bank tellers and clerks
In the distant past, it was not uncommon for a bank to have dozens of workers. Although there are still bank tellers, ATMs have replaced some of these workers as a way for people to deposit and withdraw money from their bank at any time of the day.
Packing, stockroom, and warehouse moving
Robots controlled by computers are replacing jobs that involve packing or moving of goods. An excellent example of this is the Amazon robots that move all of the goods to people who package and mail the goods to customers. Below is a video of these robots at work.
These robots help Amazon and its employees get packages shipped out faster than its competition. However, at the same time, these robots have replaced the jobs of workers who would have handled this job.
Other companies are also using autonomous forklift machines that can also be used to move, load, and offload goods.
Many pharmacies are replacing their pharmacy technicians with robots capable of separating and handling prescriptions for its customers. These robots help prevent mistakes, and because they only require a small space for robotic arms, they can also occupy a much smaller footprint than their human counterparts.
Information gathering, analysts, and researchers
Law firms are already replacing paralegals and other staff with e-discovery lawyers and research robots. These robots are capable of combing through millions of documents and discovering relevant facts, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other information based on keywords.
Many financial analysts are also being replaced by computer programs that are designed to analyze and find patterns and trends in financial data. Finding these patterns and trends automatically can be used to help invest and find financial opportunities or risks more efficiently.
Journalists and reporters
Many news agencies and websites are already employing the help of computer-assisted writing and information gathering software robots. If you read news stories on the Internet, you have very likely read a story generated by a computer and not a human. As software become smarter, it's going to replace even more journalist and reporter jobs.
The United States Military is already using autonomous drones that conduct surveillance and even attacks all without the assistance of humans. As these drones become more advanced and capable, they are going to be adapted to other fields such as replacing the pilots of cargo planes used by companies like FedEx and UPS. There are already many companies looking into replacing their fleet of pilots with computer assisted pilots that could be remotely aided by a handful of pilots if needed.
There are already companies working on and implementing systems that can be used to replace bartenders that serve alcohol or coffee drinks. Services like Briggo are replacing baristas and can even learn and store how to make your favorite drink.
In the above video is an example alcohol bartending robots making drinks for customers on a cruise ship.
Today's stock market is full of computers already making and selling stocks online and has replaced many of the stock trader jobs that used to exist. In the past, you used to have dozens of stock floor traders who handled all stock trading. Today, most of the trading is controlled by computers.
Many of the postal workers who have sorted mail in the past have been replaced by automatic sorting machines that can read and sort mail faster, cheaper, and all times of the day.
Doctors, anesthesiologist, and surgeon robots
Robots are assisting even highly skilled professions like doctors and Anesthesiologists and in some cases replacing humans to perform common surgeries or tasks without the aid of a human.
IBM's Watson computer is also being used in the medical field to help doctors diagnose and review medical information and medical history. Watson is even helping in the development of medical research. As it becomes smarter and faster, it's going to take the place of many jobs that are handling the same tasks.
Soldiers and guards
Today, many militaries already use autonomous and remotely flying drones as a replacement for many missions. Many militaries are also researching and creating robots that can be used to replace human ground soldiers. These robots can be deployed to guard an area, assist soldiers in carrying heavy gear, and even be made to detect and attack enemies.
There are also companies who are developing security guard robots that can patrol and monitor an area in the night. For example, robots from Knightscope can already hear, see (in day and night), and even smell dangers in the area they are patrolling. These robots can immediately alert authorities or humans when it senses dangers or potential threats.
Before the Internet, there were a lot of people who worked as a travel agent to help find, arrange, and book the best deal for traveling. Today, with the Internet and computers you can do all of this yourself very easy without needing a travel agent.
Chefs and cooks
There are already robots that prepare much of the packaged food you find in the store. However, there are also companies like Moley Robotics who are working on creating robotic arms that can act as a personal chef in your home kitchen. These robots could use your personal recipes or recipes from professional chefs.
Bomb disposal robots are actively being used by the military and police to examine and, if found, destroy bombs without endangering a human life. These robots are not autonomous and are still remotely controlled by a human, but they are an example of how robots can also be used as a tool to assist people.
Before computers, there were hundreds of secretaries and typists whose jobs were to type letters and other documents. Today, the computer has made these jobs obsolete and with all of the improvements of voice recognition, computers are now also able to type for you as you talk.
In the early days of the phone, a human operator was on the other side of the phone and would help direct your call to who you wanted to talk to by manually moving plugs into other jacks. Today, all switching is handled by computers and no longer requires a human operator.
Bowling ball pinsetter
Not many people realize that even the bowling alley is using robots to reset the pins each time you knock down pins. In the past, a person would sit next to the pins and clear and set the pins each time someone bowled.
When film movies first ran in cinemas, a person was trained and in charge of running the projector. Today's projectors are digital and can usually be run automatically or by any of the employees who are already working on other jobs in the theater.
Home and small garden
Even your home garden is being automated with projects like Farmbot that can plant produce of your choice, efficiently water those plants, and remove weeds for you as everything grows.
Hotel staff and room service
There are a few hotels who have started experimenting with replacing hotel staff, such as receptionists and room service employees, with robots that can complete the same tasks. Like all other technologies, as they become more efficient and more widely accepted, many of these jobs are being replaced by robots and computers.