It seems like something out of a science fiction book or dystopian novel about the future, but make no mistake, the job market as we know it is bound to completely transform. Some jobs may actually even become obsolete in the future.
We can already start to see many jobs as the target of automation, a term used to describe a process, procedure or task is performed without human assistance. When you weigh the pros and cons, it certainly seems like a pro to have human error or subjectivity taken out of the equation, but what then are we losing as a society when we strip a human element out of how we do things?
Arguments for universal basic human income or livable wages aside, this article is not about discussing the economic downfall of how the workforce may change in the future, rather it is a glimpse into what a future might look like for many of these positions which may grow obsolete.
1) Gas Station Workers: With electric cars becoming more and more popular, the need for gas station workers may soon become less and less. Between theft in poorer areas and the rise in gas prices, the industry may soon shift entirely to clean reusable energy. This means many gas stations may be replaced by “recharging-stations” where you simply drive up, plug in your vehicle then drive off.
2) Pharmacy Workers: Giving out the wrong prescriptions, failure to communicate the appropriate prescriptions and human substance abuse may be more closely monitored if all these tasks are performed by a robot. Yes, believe it or not, the way you receive your prescription drugs may radically be altered in the future. A lot of these types of jobs are the target of automation.
3) Bank Tellers: Bank error in your favor! Collect $200! Well, not anymore! Yes, even bank tellers are subject to losing their positions in the future. After all, it’s hard to rob a bank if it’s run by robots. This may also happen to loan officers, who may not give away loans anymore based on charity. If you don’t make the cut, then you don’t qualify. It’s hard to argue with a faceless machine to give you money.
4) Industry Workers: Car manufacturers, cell phone manufacturers and many different workers in various industries are at risk of being replaced by robotic arms. In 2016, tech company Foxconn replaced 60,000 of its workers with robots. This is happening across the board with many different manufacturing companies, making industry workers the most likely to lose their careers.
5) Grocery Store Clerks: We’re already starting to see this at big box grocery stores and department stores around the world. Scanning coupons, imputing your own purchases and paying a machine seems to be the norm. It may even prove to eliminate cashiers altogether, given that nearly 10% of all cash handling transactions result in a human error, which may result in losses for either company finances or for customers.
6) Pilots: Eliminating human error and the ability for hostile takeover is actually a large component to creating vehicles that run entirely on autopilot. Many planes actually run on these types of systems, with a human in the pilot seat making sure everything goes as planned. Perhaps these types of vehicles can be controlled entirely by a computer in the future.
7) Postal Workers: Paper mail delivery has been on a steady decline over the past few decades with the invention of email. Electronic delivery has cut paper costs, saved trees, and even taken out the ‘lost mail’ equation altogether. Many services resort to online billing, and when it comes to parcel delivery, companies like Amazon are starting to employ ‘delivery drones.’ The whole process has not been streamlined yet, but it’s only a matter of time before home mail delivery becomes obsolete.
8) Truck Drivers: Many of the world’s leading businesses are starting to invest in driverless vehicles, especially trucks, including Apple, Tesla, Ford, Amazon, and even Uber. Delivery times can be doubled without the need for humans to stop to use the bathroom, sleep, or eat. Now, trucks can be fuelled and travel straight to their destinations without stopping. This will greatly affect many companies’ bottom lines, but it will ultimately cost truck drivers their careers in the future.
9) Teachers: It may come as a shock that teachers are subject to becoming obsolete, however, many academics agree that new technologies like iPads and personal computers can be used to teach children just as well. Engaging applications, programs, and even video tutorials can teach many people how to do things themselves. Perhaps in the future, schools may become at-home guided programs through virtual reality, as portrayed in Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One.
10) Public Transit Drivers / Operators: Bus drivers, subway drivers, and train operators may soon lose their jobs to automation as well. With the invention of driverless vehicles, many workers in these positions might soon find their jobs to be obsolete as the need for human operators is gone.
11) Baristas: Getting a perfectly handcrafted cup of coffee may soon be a thing of the past with espresso machines becoming more and more advanced in the coming years. According to Wikipedia, over 2.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. In the future, coffee shops may actually become coffee ‘stations’ where people line up to have a cup-of-joe pumped out of a machine.
12) Fast Food Workers: McDonald’s and other fast food chains are already replacing their cashiers with ordering stations. These computers allow you to punch in your own order manually, pay, then receive your order. How much longer will it be before a computer with robotic arms is made to assemble hamburgers like an automotive plant assembles cars? This may happen sooner than we think!