09 April 2015

4 Careers that Automation will Render Obsolete

The integration of technology, robotics, and the Internet of things into everyday society provides some exciting opportunities for the betterment of all. At the same time, several industries that currently employ many thousands will no longer do so as those jobs become doable by a machine. While hardly the first time that has happened, it will probably result in the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution. The list spans all levels of society. The loss of jobs in an industry certainly isn't great for those affected, but they can prepare for the inevitable by updating their skills as the industry changes, transition to a new industry, or plan to "retire early". But another big part of preparation is realizing that you're in the cross hairs to begin with. Below are four professions that should start planning sooner than the rest of us.

1. Taxi driver
This scene will become rare soon. PC: stockimages.

The rise of "ride sharing" services such as Lyft and Uber has already gotten traditional taxi services shaking in their driver seats. Just wait until Goober hits the streets. Some enterprising individuals will certainly buy a self-driving car, sign up as a driver on the service, then let the car loose on the streets. As the technology moves beyond just being autonomous to full artificial intelligence, the cars will also take themselves for service too. All without a human behind the wheel.

2. Cashier

While some merchants will undoubtedly always have a person behind the counter, many will increase the number of automated checking machines in their stores in the future. This one has been a long time coming, but interest may increase in the coming years now that minimum wage increases are in vogue again. Despite the fact that several high-profile notorious low-wage employers recently announced voluntary hikes in their minimum wages, they are almost certainly also looking at ways to increase productivity in tandem and get more work out of the current employees, including by hiring fewer of them in the future.

There will be fewer opportunities to
to scale ladders in the future.
PC: potowizard.

3. Firefighter

Firefighting forces of the future will feature fewer people jumping down the poles when the bell rings. The Navy has been working on robotic firefighters for years now. Additionally, advances in building codes as well as the Internet of things will make large conflagrations less likely in the future. But that ignores the fact that at present, most fire departments decidedly do NOT deal with fires on a regular basis at all. The vast majority of calls are instead for medical emergencies. While some fire departments do have actual ambulance companies (not just a paramedic on a pumper truck), a lot of emergency transport of many people is ultimately done by a private ambulance company.

There will also be fewer collisions for them to respond to on the roads of the future. Autonomous cars are part of a push to create safer streets and drastically reduce the death toll on the roads. Less collisions is a welcome part of that, but firefighters will find themselves twiddling their thumbs more often. However, as municipalities continue to search for ways to control costs, the necessity for firefighters in the current shape and form will continue to come under fire.

4. Transit Operator

Sorry folks, if you currently drive a bus or especially a train, your days are numbered. High-profile cases in recent years that resulted in many deaths have galvanized America to the "danger" of transit. But almost all of those were attributed to human error. Much like in driving, the controversial removal of humans will likely result in much safer operations. Many automated rail transit systems are already in use worldwide, including some that have human operators only as legacy positions. With more automated systems coming online and automation coming to even the freight railroads, it will become much harder to demonstrate a need for their to also be a human in the cab.


Eventually, the robots are coming for us all. Just as icemen and others have all found a reduced demand for their services (though milkman is making a comeback), many more of us will also find ourselves in the same situation. The great part about financial independence/retiring early is that it future-proofs against the loss of income such as when a position gets cut for good. It is imperative that one prepares for that eventuality by working toward developing an income stream that will fund their lifestyle. When that day of the pink slip comes, it will certainly be very emotional as people hang up their hat or close doors for the last time that are never to be done again. Nevertheless, it will be much easier to accept knowing that the end of an era is the beginning of a new and relaxed way to live, possibly even the beginning of a new adventure.

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