A future robot takeover won’t be as scary as it sounds if you can stay employed.
An FKD Feature exclusive

In the wake of Amazon opening its first cashier-less store, you may be wondering what other jobs could be soon on their way out. Don’t quit your job in despair and start busking just yet – automation is still a long way from replacing many workers. However, it’s a good idea to future-proof your skills in the case of a real robot takeover. That takeover is a long way out, but here’s what we know so far.

Who’s at risk?

According to a study done by the Institute For Spatial Economic Analysis, the automation of jobs by machines may lead to job losses of 55 percent or more in many major cities. This may most severely impact “low-wage metropolitan areas,” where that figure may even reach the mid-60s. Jobs most likely to be given to our robot overlords are primarily in administrative support, food service and sales. High-tourism cities like Las Vegas and Orlando are especially at risk, as are cities with few tech jobs. (Naturally, the people designing and programming automation are safe.) Those with a college education generally have some degree of advantage over those who don’t, as these jobs lead to higher earning potential as well as critical thinking and creative skills that artificial intelligence has yet to master.

Professor Johannes Moenius, who was involved in the study, spoke to CNN about the results. “We’ll likely have [a large amount] of people without education. Some of them we can train, and some we can’t,” he said. Moenius also predicts increased income inequality, which could have drastic consequences.

Should you worry?

Some new jobs will be created, as workers tasked with maintaining and developing robots will be more necessary than ever. Still, many of us don’t have these skills. According to a Forbes article on the topic, the manufacturing industry already has seen the most losses, and losses in more industries may follow beyond just the service industry. Journalism, pharmacology and health care are also fields where advances in technology could lead to robots taking more jobs. Machines can already write basic articles, dispense medications and even perform surgery. Who’s to say what they’ll be able to do next?

If companies feel it’s worthwhile to invest in automation, they will. When the jobs are simple, there’s more incentive to get robots to do them, as some complex tasks still befuddle our metal friends and require a lot more money pumped into research, development and production. If a certain field is heavily regulated, that might also act as a deterrent for an automation takeover. The aforementioned Forbes article offers some advice to worried workers. One is to broaden your skill set. If you’ve got multiple skills, you’ll be more valuable and less replaceable. Another is to aim for a managerial or supervisory position, as those jobs are also far less likely to go a robot worker. The most practical advice for young professionals, though, is to notice developing trends. Be prepared to switch industries when things are starting to look bleak.

Takeaway

Generally speaking, automation is still in its infancy. Millennials might not see their industries automated until a few decades from now. Still, the forward march of technology can be unpredictable, and it’s best to stay ahead of the curve. Those working in the service industry are at the highest risk. If that’s you, consider some long-term career moves – education and developing a skill set will go a long way when only robots flip burgers and operate cash registers.

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Posted 02.12.2018 - 10:00 am EDT