I ordered a meal from McDonald’s the other day. It had been a while since I visited the restaurant. Partially because I was on a 10 month diet where Mcnuggets were forbidden. But since I broke free from the chains of the carb-free diet, I suddenly wanted to make up for lost time by enjoying a meal from my childhood.
When I walked into the restaurant doors I was greeted by an employee that welcomed me and walked me over to a order kios.
“You can order on these now”, she said. “Let me know if you need any help”.
“Thanks”, I responded.
At first I didn’t know how to feel about being walked over to a bot instead of the counter like when I was a child. But as soon as my finger touched the order screen, the geek in me felt a sense of satisfaction.
I knew exactly what I wanted to eat but I decided to scroll though the different screens trying to decide if this was an improvement on the ordering process or just a way for Micky D’s to shave some figures from their expenses.
A Manager was walking through the restaurant dinning area when she saw me scrolling through the multiple screens.
“Do you need help, sir. Oh, it looks like you’ve got the hang of it. You must have been hear before”.
“No”, I said. “This is my first time using this. It’s just super easy to use.”
While I was eating my sandwich, I began to think about how seamlessly bots and technology are replacing humans in the service industry and entry level positions such as the young lady that walked me over to the kios.
But what about other positions in the workforce? Could occupations that require years of experience and a high level of education be replaced as well? After doing a lot of research, I found that there are many very important professions that could soon be replaced by robots and AI.
Here is a list of the 7 white collar jobs that may soon be replaced by technology.
1. Medical Staff
Medical staff are some of the hardest people to replace with technology. Here’s the thing, while There are many aspects of medical care such as data analysis, technical expertise, and medical knowledge that could be outsourced to robots without any negative effects. Robots such as the aptly named Da Vinci can now perform laparoscopic surgeries, while software can provide highly objective and accurate diagnosis of patients given their symptoms.
Even so, there are aspects of medical care such as interpretation of incomplete patient data, ethics, and human psychology that simply cannot be done by machines. It is one thing putting data analysis and technical interpretation in the hands of robots. Putting the life of a human into the hands of a robot that does not have any legal or moral obligations would have many legal and ethical implications. So some medical staff may still be necessary.
When it comes to white collar jobs and robots there is no industry that epitomizes automation more than aviation. Aviation has come a long way from the days when Lindberg stayed for thirty-three and a half hours flying a plane from the controls. With so many non-rewarding and repetitive tasks in the plane’s cockpit, automation has made pilot’s jobs easier.
The recent development of a robot named the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) that can do practically all that a human pilot can in the cockpit makes the case that soon robots may replace pilots. Nonetheless, while robots now perform so many aviation tasks, the pilot still has an important role to play in monitoring of controls and flying the plane in times of crisis.
The fact is Pilots have proved time and again to be superior to robots in times of aviation crises. While a plane can literally fly itself, you still need pilots to monitor the controls and take over the flying of the plane in case the robots malfunction.
Whereas many people consider attorneys to be nothing more than robots that regurgitate legal concepts, it will be a long time before robots can replace humans in the legal profession. Despite the fact most laws are static, their interpretation is not. While you can automate aspects such as legal research and record keeping, it is more difficult to automate interpretation as different attorneys will interpret and argue cases differently.
However, a chat bot called DoNotPay designed by a teenager is taking London and New York by storm after it was able to overturn parking tickets. Dubbed the ‘robot lawyer, the chat bot is meant to help motorists dispute parking violations in half a minute.
The success of the robot lawyer is overwhelming as it has successfully cancelled 160,000 fines for parking violations since its launch last year, 2015.
Judges have never been much in the conversation in discussions about white collar jobs and robots. However, Rapid developments in technology, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI) have led to predictions that robots could replace judges in the next twenty years. Just recently, artificial intelligence software put to the test in simulated conditions performed reasonably well.
The software devised by University College London computer scientists was able to deliver the correct outcome in 79% of the cases by analyzing English language data sets that were comprised of over 500 cases.
Nonetheless, the catch is that you would still need human judges to have made the decisions in the past. Moreover, robotic systems cannot make precedent-setting judgments, or make valid rulings on cases that do not have sufficient precedent, thus necessitating the input of human judges.
5. Financial Advisors
Robots are taking over the financial advice segment ever more rapidly. Known as Robo Advisers, these investment advice services that may include either fully automated financial investment advice from computers or advice from a hybrid that is composed of human advisers in collaboration with computerized systems.
Financial investment advisory services have lately been making moves to make robot advisers more appealing. An investor opting for Robot advisers now pays lower fees than when they decide to go for a human financial adviser. The advantage of Robo advisers is that they are not only cheaper, but are also less likely to make cognitive mistakes given their lack of emotion and cognitive bias.
Upstarts such as Wealthfront and Betterment as well as established firms like Vanguard and Charles Schwab, have robo advisory platforms that are striking fear into the hearts of many seasoned Financial Advisors.
Most firms will likely maintain some human financial advisers. Betterment, for example provides Financial Consultants for individuals investing $250,000 or more. The ideal scenario would be having a hybrid of human and automated systems and fully passive machine systems.
Accounting software has been a mainstay in the accounting industry for decades now. However, innovations are making software more consumer friendly and easier to use. What this means is that more people, including small businesses and startups will shift to the use of accounting software rather than employ expensive human accountants.
Nevertheless, the transition to DIY accounting solutions such as TurboTax and Freshbooks is highly unlikely to happen overnight. Furthermore, accounting tasks that require mastery of tax law, interpretive insight rather than mathematical acumen, communication, creativity, and trust are better performed by human accountants. On the other hand, it is likely that highly repetitive tasks such as document processing and mathematical calculations will increasingly be the realm of robots.
When you think of white collar jobs and robots, the group most people believe are least vulnerable are reporters. The work performed by reporters is deemed impossible to automate since it involves the reporter visiting the scene of a story and reporting what they see. However, over the past few years, major news corporations such as Forbes have been running human readable content written by machines. News stories that are highly data oriented such as sports and finance can be easy to write for robots.
A robot known as Narrative Science can be programmed to write very good stories simply by collating data and presenting it in readable format. Still, stories that require aspects such as emotion and human perspectives can never be outsourced to robotic machines. As such, while we will definitely see robots writing more news stories in the future, the news reporter is highly unlikely to be completely phased out soon.