future tech


An increasing body of research suggests that in the next few years, future technology, including artificial intelligence, will start taking over many jobs which until now have always been done by humans, offering businesses a cheaper and more efficient workforce.

In fact, the Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2015 a quarter of all jobs will be replaced with smart software or robots, while Oxford University researchers anticipate 35% of jobs will be replaced within the next 20 years.

A number of successful companies have proved that making use of tech and keeping staff numbers low does not hold you back. WhatsApp had just 55 employees when Facebook bought it for $19 billion.

This infographic from NarrativeScience shows the development of Artificial Intelligence as a future technology from the 1950s to now:

AI Then & Now from Narrative Science

The job roles most at risk

So what are the roles which are likely to be replaced by tech in the not so distant future? Here are a few:

1. Online marketers

Crafting the perfect email to entice customers may seem like a creative job only a human can do. However, natural language software Persado has proved otherwise and uses a series of algorithms to determine which online marketing communications will be most effective. In some cases the computer-generated subject lines have been twice as effective as human-written

2. Lawyers

A robot may not be standing up and arguing in court anytime soon, but there is evidence that they may be taking over a lot of the legal paperwork – with one machine replacing dozens of associates and paralegals. In the US, global firm Dentons is already using ROSS, an artificially intelligent robot, to focus on bankruptcy cases.

3. Payroll staff

Number-crunching tasks are easy for robots, which makes payroll staff prime candidates to be replaced by future tech. In fact, the University of Oxford research suggests there is a 97% chance that payroll managers and bookkeepers will be replaced by robots.

4. Receptionists

Technological advances mean that robots not only act like humans, they can look like them too making them perfect for receptionist duties.

In Tokyo, a robot named ChihiraAico welcomes customers at the reception of department store Mitsukoshi and, perhaps more strangely, a robot dinosaur has taken over the job of welcoming guests at Henn na Hotel in Japan.

Signs a job may be at risk from future technology

The types of jobs which are at risk of automation tend to share some similar characteristics including:

  • Repetitiveness – if a job involves doing the same tasks day in day out, then it may be easier to automate.
  • Low pay – jobs which attract typically low salaries are more likely to become obsolete.
  • High volumes of information – the elements of any role which are information intensive can be automated quite easily.

However, jobs which involve directly helping others or require a strong element of creativity are much less likely to be automated.

This handy tool from the BBC shows how at risk various jobs are from being taken over by technology.


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