A recent report from the Oxford Martin School’s Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology attempts to quantify what jobs are must vulnerable to computerization. It concludes that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.
1) Computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering.
2) This “technological plateau” will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.
The rate of computerization depends on several other factors, including regulation of new technology and access to cheap labor.
“We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To assess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labor market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 45 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.”
Nextbigfuture has looked at the vulnerability of different jobs
Nextbigfuture has tracked the new wave of automation in manufacturing and distribution and how robotic cars will impact employment as well.
According the American Trucking Association there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, with total industry employment at over 8.7 million. That means that one out of every 15 people working in the United States is employed in the trucking industry.
In 2008, Nextbigfuture looked at automation but also changes to businesses and business models that reduce employment or increase efficiency
Going down the list of jobs and looking at how many people have different jobs which are the jobs that are safe from displacement ? Even if a class of jobs is not completely eliminated could demand be severely reduced ?
23.3 million jobs in the USA for office administration and support. (New business systems that require fewer people. Web 2.0 companies only need a handful of people or one person to do what took hundreds only a few years ago).
14.3 million jobs in the USA for sales and related work. (Automation and new sales processes)
11.3 million jobs in food preparation and serving. (Improved frozen meals)
10.1 million jobs in production. (Automation and process re-engineering)
9.6 million jobs in transportation and material moving. (more local production : high rise farming, rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems)
8.3 million jobs in education, training and library. (online learning, MIT recordings of the best professors.)
6.9 million healthcare practitioners and technical. (Biomarker tracking with cheap devices to catch and treat diseases early or in the developing stages. Keep people healthier and avoiding the need for more costly and people intensive intervention).
6.7 million jobs in construction and extraction (pre-fab buildings and panels).
6.0 million Management. Re-engineering to flatten organizations and take out layers of management. Web 2.0’ing a business. Reinvent it where a lot fewer people are needed.
5.4 million Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. Redesign things where the quality is better and it does not break or does not need service or is simple to install.
Vending machines, self checkout, ATMs (the shift from Blockbuster stores to Red Box and Netflix)are part of the existing wave of work processes that new fewer workers.
Overall weak economies
There has been lower employment participation in the USA and many european countries because of weaker economies.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.