As artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced, it has been increasingly used to replace human labour in the workplace. Task automation done by AIs allows human workers to free up their time to tackle more creative and strategic tasks.
But, as AI improves and learns, will it get to a point where there is no need for human participation?
When thinking of automation, it’s easy to picture a little human-shaped robot doing the job for you, which seems very futuristic. But automation is not a new occurrence. The invention of gas-powered tractors in the early 20th century was a type of automation and allowed farmers to increase productivity and become more efficient. This invention contributed to a decline in agricultural employment from close to 40% of total employment in 1900 to less than 2% since 2000.
Nowadays, automation is seen a lot more in modern occupations. You can build data bots that will process marketing functions for you, while you focus on the important things. Warehouse and manufacturer workers will see an increase in automation in their jobs too, with robot workers to stack shelves or lift heavy items to decrease risk to human’s safety.
There is certainly no shortage of concern when it comes to the impact of AI on jobs. a survey by Pew Research Internet finds Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans.
So what are the benefits?
It’s true that automation is becoming more prevalent, but it doesn’t have to be worrying. You can use it to your advantage so you can maximise your working time. Automation has a plethora of benefits when it comes to productivity, costs, worker safety, and even ROI. AI can perform the work of three to five people, depending on the task. They don’t need to sleep, eat, or take breaks. They can take over hazardous tasks so you can safeguard your employees. Many tech experts believe that automation is more likely to replace boring, menial tasks than full jobs, which will allow humans to stay focussed on higher-level tasks.
What jobs are at likely to become automated?
A US company put together a really interesting infographic with the top 50 most-held occupation titles according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics National Occupation Employment and Wage Estimation in the United States and then found their likelihood of automation.
Amongst the top 5 occupations shown in the infographic, retail salespeople have a 92% chance of being automated. This may sound worrying for the 4 million people in the USA that are employed in this job, but human retail salespeople will never fully disappear. AI is great at completing the little tasks such as inputting customer data or completing a purchase, but what it can never substitute is the need for a human connection and a personal experience. Retail is forever adapting and changing, and so is the experience. Most modern retailers are now primarily focussed on personalising the customer experience to make them feel special and cared for. That is what drives sales, not robots. Automation simply allows more time to be spent on customers.
Another occupation with a high chance of being automated is waiters and waitresses, with a 94% rating. Again, I don’t believe the job will ever be taken over, as you can’t beat that personalised, human experience. For example, I went to a steak restaurant and before I ordered, our waiter came out with a tray of the different cuts of meat they use and talked us through how the cows were raised, fed, the best way to have it cooked, and what wine to pair it with. The attention to detail and care we received from the staff made me feel like a VIP, and thus I gave them a 5-star rating, which is something I rarely do!
So, despite the growth in the use of automation and AI, humans will never fully be pushed out of work. While automation can take care of the little tasks, we are able to focus on human needs and think creatively. Take a look at some of the other occupations here, and let us know what you think.