Robots are slowly taking over human jobs – but not the ones predicted by the media. New technology is changing the workplace – making a few social positions obsolete.
Call Centre Workers
Workers manning the inbound calls for large corporations are one of the hardest hit by automation. Corporations are opting for automated VoIP solutions in screening, transferring calls, and other simple tasks that can be done over the phone. What used to take 10-20 people can be done with 1 or 2. Automated phone systems save on space, equipment, and personnel – cutting a corporation’s overhead by a significant margin. Receptionists somewhat fulfill the same roles – but their face-to-face interaction with people makes their jobs a little bit safer.
Retail and Grocery Staff
The retail industry has already been hit hard by technology – particularly online shopping. Groceries have been largely left unaffected, but new technology might lead to a bit of downsizing. Elementary jobs like shelf-filling and basic sales occupations are under threat from robots that are currently in development. In the US, Walmart is already using an automated robotic system to take inventory of its stock. Shelf-filling machines and machines that can pick out an order (whether for groceries or retail stores) are already in the testing stage.
More machinery will be taking over farming jobs in the future. Automated farming machinery is already being used in farms in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. The seasonal nature of farming jobs, as well as the risks involved (farming jobs are considered one of the most dangerous jobs all over the world), make machines a more viable option than employing human workers. From seeding and weeding to actual harvesting – automated systems and machinery are changing the face of fruit and crop farming. Dairy farms and cattle farms are also benefiting from automated systems and robot workers. Automated feeders – and even milking booths – are turning once laborious tasks into a self-managing system.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and tailored computer programs are already capable of handling tax preparations, payrolls, bank reconciliations, invoice filing, risk assessment, expense submissions, and invoice payments. Accountants will be relegated to analyzing AI data or providing consultations. AI is already better than its human counterparts in data entry accuracy and fraud detection. Machines do not make mistakes – minimizing or eliminating a company’s liability risks. While new technology will not eliminate the need for accountants, it might decrease the demand for them. Accounting schools are preparing students by integrating the new automated systems into their curriculum.
The media has often cited lorry drivers as one of the most at risk from automation – predicting automated lorries taking over their jobs. However, most experts – even the ones designing automated lorries – are quick to point out that human drivers will always be needed. Automated systems in airplanes have been in use for decades, but pilots are still flying the planes. The skies are safer than the roads – no traffic, no pedestrians, and no constant turning to switch lanes or change roads. Automated driving systems will merely assist a human driver – taking over in long stretches of road where there is very little traffic or turns.
Automation is unavoidable. While simple menial jobs might be at risk – skilled jobs remain relatively safe. Arm yourself with knowledge and get a bit of training in the use of new technology which will soon integrate into your workplace.