Sunday, April 13, 2014

20 Jobs That Will Not Exist in 20 Years

Last week we talked about jobs from the past that have already gone by the wayside. And this week is part 2 of my obsolete jobs blog. We're going to talk about jobs that are predicted to be nearly gone in the next 20 years or at least out-of-date.

What education should you get to best position yourself for the coming decades? What line of work should you be in, and which professions have no future and will disappear? What does the brave new world have to offer? Here is a list I saw of jobs predicted to be obsolete in 20 years—some logical, some surprising, and some seem a little far-fetched.

1. Actor: Actors in film and television will be replaced by completely realistic animations. Stage actors will of course exist for a while longer, and will probably be performing in many parts of the world simultaneously, through the anticipated widespread use of holograms. [I'm not really seeing either of these end results as being on the immediate horizon…the capability yes, but the reality no]

2. Cashier: Many grocery stores already have self-operated check stands, but that’s just a tradeoff between a cashier doing the job and you doing it yourself, making your groceries cheaper. [remember when ATMs first became available and we were encouraged to trust those machines and told it was a good thing because it would save money and in today's world we're charged ATM fees]  In the future, check stands will be fully automated. Just leave your groceries on the belt and let the robot tally it up many times faster than a human ever could. As a consequence, lines will be much less of a nuisance as they become increasingly non-existent.

3. Construction worker: Construction work can be hazardous, so why should humans risk their lives doing it? In the future, insurance companies certainly won’t cover a construction firm that takes such unnecessary risks. Robotics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they’ll be constructing buildings cheaper, and far more rapidly than humans.

4. Soldier: Compared to sophisticated robots, humans are relatively susceptible to mental deficiencies such as nervousness, pride, stupidity, miscalculation, and slow reaction time. In other words: computers can do the same job more efficiently, without risking human life, and without apprehension. [this one is surely going to be dependent on perfected artificial intelligence…that instant decision about a totally unexpected situation]

5. Security guard: Buy a strong, obedient robot that can see in the dark, never falls asleep on duty, and won’t accept bribes, to protect your home or your business.

6. Car mechanic: Cars will become too technically complex to repair for humans. Computers and robots will take care of it. Eventually, cars will fix themselves. They've already started driving themselves. 

7. Trash collector: Instead of two slow, weak and unhappy guys tossing trash into the back of the truck, a single fast, strong and highly motivated robot will complete the process in five seconds. [my trash pickup has recently been reduced to a one man operation and that one man is the driver—newly issued trash receptacles, instructions about where/how they are placed at the curb, and trucks with automatic arms that pick up the receptacle and dump the contents into the truck then return the receptacle to the curb]

8. Assembly line worker: Automakers, textile producers and furniture factories (to mention some industries) around the world are cutting costs by reducing their number of salary, pension and insurance absorbing employees, and shifting focus to mechanical solutions.

9. Toll booth operator: Many developed countries have already successfully implemented money-and-time saving automatic toll booths with video detection and post payment/subscriptions.

10. Prostitute: The completely lifelike robot girlfriends will satisfy the demand for carnal services in the future. [Westworld has become reality?]

11. Nature photographer: Close-ups from inside the lion's cave and year-long stakeouts without the need for food or shelter are the advantages of photographic robots. [but does all this robotic perfection replace the creative and artistic eye contributed by the human element?]

12. Surgeon: Why let a nervous, shaky doctor with poor eyesight cut you with knives and fool around inside of you, when a steady handed, ice cool and accurate robot can do it instead? Medical malpractice lawsuits cost the American health providers some $30 billion each year. This will end.

13. Pilot: Computerized pilots are not like regular pilots in that they are not prone to human error, i.e. they won't spill coffee on the instrument panels in the cockpit or miscalculate their landing angle. Nor do they need good visibility to fly, as their millimeter-accurate GPS and sensor systems will guide them blindly to their destination. Obviously, they will have to prove their merit before plane passengers, and by extension airlines, can trust them.

14. Film processor: Even today it seems absurd to have a full time employee engaged in nothing but processing film. In fact, it has become difficult to find a local place to process your film and equally difficult to find a place to purchase 35mm film for your old film camera. And also along those lines, most modern movie theaters are rapidly moving away from film which makes a projectionist also on the track toward being obsolete.

15. Librarian: Libraries will soon look very different. Why have a library containing 50,000 paper made books when you can have 50 million of them in virtual form, which you can access with your library card and download to your kindle or iPad. There will not be any need for humans to process the lending of books.

16. Call center operator: By 2029, when computers are scheduled to match human intelligence, a microchip will call your house and argue that you do in fact need flood insurance. [I get dozens of computer dialed calls now that play recorded messages]

17. News anchor: No mispronunciations, no misunderstandings, no Freudian slips, just a perfectly articulate teleprompter with an attractive face. [some more of the 'no actor' technology of item number 1?]

18. Mailman: Who sends snail-mail these days? Mostly nostalgic pen pals. While we may have a small segment left of the paper mail industry, most of the things we use the mail for is transitioning to or has already moved completely online: Bills, public notices, and business-letters. Although, we’ll still need package delivery at least until nanotechnology enables us to send and download material objects like we send files today, in 30-40 years. [or at such time as we all have 3D printers so we can purchase the article via the internet and print out the item in our homes]

19. Waiters: Robots don't have an attitude, won't spill your food, and don't need tips. They can work tirelessly around the clock, be ultra-efficient and be called upon by clicking a button in your menu.

20. Receptionist: Artificial intelligence and robotics sciences are approaching a point where the robots we can make will match humans in terms of intelligence. These robots will be our faithful servants who perform the menial tasks, so humans can focus on developing themselves.

Extra: Jobs that will be outsourced to countries with inexpensive labor. Yes, these jobs will still exist, but will be performed by personnel in countries that can offer inexpensive, skilled labor.
Web designer
Customer service
Many high-tech jobs

It seems that job predictions for the future usually include something about freeing us up to have more leisure time to enjoy and spend with family and friends.  However, they don't say how an ever increasing world population is supposed to earn a living in an arena of decreasing jobs.


Ashantay said...

Unfortunately, robots are only as intelligent as the human who programs them. I see a dichotomy here...thanks for the interesting look at the future.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: I'm with you! I don't see several of these as being viable in the near future let alone in the short immediate future of 20 years.

Real artificial intelligence is not the accumulation and storage of vast amounts of facts and making choices based on what has historically worked or what is logical. It's also being able to synthesize the truly human element such as reason and the 'human response' rather than the technical aspect of the odds saying what would be the logical thing to do.

After all, computerized logic tells us that a broken clock has the correct time twice a day and is therefore the preferable choice over a clock that loses a second of time every day so that it is correct only once every huge amount of years.

Thanks for your comment.

Laura Strickland said...

And with whom will we chat as we go about our errands? Will the robot be programmed to commiserate with us about the late arrival of spring? Hmm, sounds a bit grim to me. Thanks for the interesting post!

Samantha Gentry said...

Laura: Good question. Perhaps it will be like Luke and Han chatting with the androids. Or, on the down side, perhaps like HAL in 2001 Space Odyssey...that did not turn out well for the humans.

Thanks for your comment.