Your robot replacement is coming soon

About 47% of U.S. jobs can be automated, including those of drivers. Finding occupations that are safe is getting a lot harder.

By Jason Notte Sep 25, 2013 10:33AM
Toy robots (© Antonio M. Rosario, Tetra images, Getty Images)The robots are taking your job.

Yes, that supposedly "safe" one that somehow didn't get outsourced overseas, downsized out of existence or pounded into obsolescence. As the folks at The Conversation point out, it's not that we won't need those jobs done anymore: We just won't need you to do them.

Take truck drivers, bus drivers or those in any other career in which driving a vehicle is the sole component. Know those driverless cars Google (GOOG) is creating? That's your replacement.

The combination of enhanced data and sensors has placed 47% of 700 job types in the U.S. in jeopardy. During the Depression, John Maynard Keynes predicted that advancing technology would outpace the discovery of new uses for labor, resulting in widespread technological unemployment. He wasn't right then, but he's looking a bit more spot-on now.

The jobs those machines are replacing, however, are inherently middle class. Low-wage security guards and pharmacy aides flourish as chemical plant operators and fabric pattern makers decline. High-income workers including professional managers, engineers and consultants have seen technology increase their productivity, while administrators see advanced algorithms advancing on their turf.

So, what's considered "safe" now? Try management, business and finance occupations, generalist tasks that require social intelligence. Most jobs in education and health care -- as well as notably unstable fields including the arts and media -- are also in the clear.

The best bet for low-income, low-skill workers who are about to see their jobs automated away in the near future? STEM. That's science, technology, engineering and mathematics, kids. A simple education in any of those will keep you useful to your robot masters. Failing that, you have to get social and creative by excelling in the areas where artificial intelligence doesn't.

Do that, and you'll be several steps ahead of the robot horde.

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