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Will a robot take your job?

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There is a vigorous debate about the effects of automation on jobs. Everyone agrees that some jobs will be lost to automation and, in turn, some jobs will be created by it. The pivotal question is how all of that nets out.

Often lost in the abstract debate is the question of exactly which jobs are likely to be automated. I have created a test to try to capture just that.

The idea is simple: Some things are quite easy for computers and robots to do, and other things are quite hard. Jobs in the “safe” category have lots of things about them that are hard for machines to do.

The good news is that it doesn’t take very many hard things to make a job, practically speaking, impervious to automation, at least in this century. While jobs like “hostage negotiator” are clearly better done by people than machines, even jobs that look like good candidates for automation have difficulties. In theory, a robot should be able to clean the windows on my home, in practice this isn’t likely to happen for quite a long time.

The test is ten questions, and each one can be scored from 0 to 10. For each one, I give examples of some jobs at 0, 5, and 10. My examples are meant to show each extreme, and a midpoint. You should not just score with those three points. Use 7’s and 2’s and 9’s.

When you are done, the total is tallied. The closer it is to zero, the less likely you are to get a surprise announcement from the boss one day. The closer you get to 100, well, if you start to feel something breathing down your back, then that may be the cooling fan in the robot who is about to take your job.

The goal is not to find a job near a zero. Anything below a 70 is probably safe long enough for you to have a long illustrious career. There are obvious “100” jobs. The person who takes your order at a fast food restaurant is probably pretty close.

Take the test here. We plan to calibrate and refine it, then publish a research report about the results. If you would like to be kept in the loop about that, be sure to add your email address.

13 Responses to “Will a robot take your job?”

  1. I think that the when we’ll be calculating the net jobs that were lost by the human to the robots will be far more than the other way around.
    I have a very simple assumption to back this up, a normal human works for 8 hours per day. But a robot can work 24 hours per day! So, even at the smallest scale, 1 single robot will be able to replace 3 human beings.

  2. Yes robots are being used commonly. But one thing we must notice that every company wants its low-cost high-volume strategy so it has to remain efficient in its operations. Further there is a learning curve to training new employees, and that often takes time, which you know they don’t have. Well I am not in favor of replacing humans completely with robots, but everyone’s priorities are different.

  3. About 35% of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the following 20 years, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte. I am a software developer and I am pretty much sure that one day robot will replace most of the industrial work.

  4. A good future.
    But I think robots will not be able to replace humans entirely.
    Robots work based on human made programs.
    But humans work based on thoughts and feelings.
    Robots will never have feelings, because feeling is a creation of god, not a human creation.
    There are times when feelings are more important than thinking.
    And that’s where the robot’s weakness is because it has no feelings.
    This is just my opinion.

  5. Alexandra

    Work is an essential part of human independence, social interaction, and the sense of fulfillment by accomplishing a task or creating something of value to others. The displacement of low-skilled and clerical jobs through greater use of robots and information technology has already created social problems in the U.S. and other developed countries.

    Why can’t we ask companies to provide more than basic retraining for a hypothetical job before we eliminate an old job through automation? Do the shareholders and owners of artificial intelligence have a moral duty to contribute to a “minimum income” fund for those who lose a job? I as the calculus expert at http://yourhomeworkhelp.org/do-my-calculus-homework/ hope that creative solutions will emerge to preserve human work and dignity.