Fotolia_168952363_XS robot working with digital tablet copyright phonlamaiphoto.jpgHave you seen the video on Facebook and YouTube of the Backflipping Robot?  If not, you might want to check it out here.  For anyone who grew up with Arnold and the Terminator movies, this looks a little too close to Hollywood.  But what does this mean for us in the real world?

The age of automation is definitely here and some experts say that 47% of all jobs have the potential to be automated by 2034.  Media is full of examples of technology replacing humans. Amazon is testing a store that doesn’t have a checkout  line, but uses customers’ cell phones and remote sensors to allow people to walk in, pick what they want and walk out.

You may have also heard about the test last year where a self-driving truck from Uber drove 132 miles down I-25 in Colorado to deliver beer, without a human at the wheel.  In Australia, 73 huge autonomous trucks transport iron ore 24 hours a day, without a human driver.

These types of advancements are amazing, but also can make us think about the future of work.  There has been a lot of work done on this subject by experts in the field and there seems to be agreement that jobs at the most risk are those that “are on some level routine,  repetitive and predictable”.  (Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future”)

One of the most recent studies, funded by NPR (link to the site here), gives the likelihood that specific jobs will be automated in the future.  Some of the most likely candidates for automation (all above 89% likelihood) are:  Bus Drivers, Roofers, Accountants, Line Cooks, Cashiers, Credit Analysts, Loan Officers and Telemarketers.

Jobs least likely to be automated include Recreational Therapists, Psychiatrists, Healthcare Social Workers, Choreographers, Oral Surgeons, and Elementary Teachers.  These jobs tend to be those that involve building relationships, require genuine creativity or where the work is unpredictable.

Should you panic if you are in one of the threatened jobs?  Absolutely not.  These changes won’t happen overnight.  If you are a young person looking at  career, you might want to keep these in mind, and do your research.

It also helps to remember that the famed economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that a 15 hour work week would be the norm for his grandchildren.  I would bet than his great-grandkids aren’t working 15 hour weeks, any more than most Americans.  Also remember that automation doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of jobs…it just may mean that the work you do is going to be different.

Have you experienced automation in your job?  Share your thoughts with us.


Mike Lambert is the manager and first employee of the Wyoming SBDC Network’s Market Research Center.  In nearly 15 years Mike has built an information resource for Wyoming businesses that is unique in the nation.  The MRC specializes in providing any Wyoming business with access to advanced marketing information that was previously available only to a few of the largest corporations.  Mike’s individual expertise also includes marketing, product management, product development, international trade and export.

When he’s not in the office:

He’s probably spending time with his wife, daughters and grandkids, reading or woodworking.

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