From the gilded mountaintops of the Davos Conference to the newsroom of the humble local newspaper, everyone is talking about the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and what it means for the future of the economy, of culture and of society.
The snowballing pace of technological change means that automation of a wide range of existing jobs is just around the corner, with AI and robotics poised to take over many of the tasks we currently do, doing it more efficiently for less money (no money, to be exact). Of course, people are equally eager to discuss the idea that automation should not be seen as a threat to our collective livelihoods, rather, that new technologies will create new kinds of jobs to replace the old ones.
While it’s still a little early to figure out what that might mean for you and your paycheck, what we do know is that some industries will be much less affected, as automated processes simply can’t perform their functions. Here are the industries that are the least-threatened by automation.
Food & Beverage
Yes, we may have already seen some valiant attempts from companies such as Moley Robotics to produce robot chefs, but these efforts still fall far short of the real deal. People love eating and drinking out and the industry has experienced some phenomenal growth over the past decade. While servers and wait staff may be replaced by machines en-masse at some point in the future, the chefs, sommeliers, cocktail mixers and anyone else providing the “experience” of eating out should consider themselves pretty safe.
The vast majority of the global gaming industry takes place online and is operated by-and-large by professionals whose work simply cannot be automated. A break-down of a major online gaming platform like the casino site Paddy Power explains why: you have the creatives curating the hundreds of slot game experiences, the developers making sure that, when you click “Promotions” or try to log in, everything runs smoothly and the financial wizards in charge of doling out the jackpot prizes. We can’t quite trust AI and robotics to do the same tasks.
Healthcare professionals are safe for a number of reasons, not just because patients would undoubtedly rather see an actual doctor than a Dalek. Health workers – surgeons, nutritionists, nurses and midwives – perform complex and highly sensitive jobs that cannot be trusted to algorithms or the clumsy hands of robots. The daily requirement to make important ethical decisions regarding patients also means that automation is out of the question for now: self-driving cars have already demonstrated that machines cannot always be trusted to make the right decisions.
Although hardly the most well-paid of industries, the artists are most definitely safe. Writers, musicians, and artists use their own unique perspectives on the world and their life experiences to create work that engages audiences. Robots, on the other hand, use a data-gathering process to learn and have no room for emotional nuance or sharing experiences. People will always want access to art and culture, which is why there will always be work for creatives.
If you aren’t covered by these industries, try not to panic. Given the comically clumsy state of robots at the moment, it still looks like we’re a long time away from mass automation.