Automation and job extinction; a threat or benefit for employees

Automation and job extinction; a threat or benefit for employees

Looking at the speed of today’s shape shifting world and its dynamics, it is only logical for individuals to question the sustainability of their jobs. With drones delivering pizzas and robots greeting and hosting you at hotels it is most likely for anyone to wonder, if they will see a robot sitting at their desk the next morning.

Is the threat really that big? Is automation going to take over every human occupation? Once we look closely we come to realize that not every job can be automated, it’s not just about which human potential can be replaced by a robot, there are various other factors too, such as the cost of automation. A business will ideally not replace a cook with an expensive robot, similarly in industries where the customers/clients want emotional involvement; humans have an edge, such as nursing, customized design work etc.

The sectors which are least likely to be affected by human resourse being taken over by machines anytime soon is education and design, mainly because their interaction is with people on a very one on one basis.

With the above said, technology is getting very sophisticated and taking over quite a few occupations and will continue to do so. A very big example of this is the replacement of digital cameras over film. The photo film industries had to cut down their production of film. Eastman Kodak Company announced on June 22, 2009 that it would discontinue sales of KODACHROME Color Film that year, concluding its 74-year run as a photography icon. But what was intelligent was that instead of closing down business they upgraded themselves to the new technology and delved into production of digital formats. Similarly darkroom processing moved on to digital processing.

Some of the industries and jobs, which will face the wrath of automation in the coming times, are:

Door-to-door salesmen:

With the increasing trends in online shopping and marketing, we see a shift in the buying behavior of the consumers, which does affect retail shopping to some extent but will largely defunct the job of door-to-door salesmen. Not only this, the construction of gated residential areas and security situations will also lead to the downfall of door-to-door salesmanship.


With high sophistication in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and presence of modern and apt translation tools, the job of human translators is going extinct. The new “Neural Machine Translation”, has been built with the capability to train itself, it can reduce translation errors by up to 87%. Seeing the potential in this tool, tech companies are investing massively in translation software. The time is not far when we can have 100% accuracy in translation.

Sport umpires:

With simple facilities like “replay” to sophisticated computerized umpires, the jobs of human umpires will soon get redundant. A computerized umpire called Hawk-Eye has been introduced in Tennis, this ‘robo-ump’ helps the chief umpire make close line calls. Players can “challenge” a call, in which the Hawk Eye system will display where the ball landed and whether it was in or out. Hawk Eye’s decision is final.

Travel agents:

With the increasing trend in online ticket booking and hotel reservations, there seems to be a downward trend in booking tickets through travel agents. This increasing drift in behaviour will soon make travel agents redundant, however large scale corporate travel bookings and big family vacations might still use (physical) travel agencies but that too not for long. 

Call center agents:

From ordering food to making product complains, automated customer service seems to be a very routine thing now. Very sophisticatedly integrated, these softwares cater to our problems quite efficiently. This is becoming an everyday basic; and modern customer service is moving into a much advanced phase; a phase of automated faces. ‘CHATBOTS’ to be exact.

A company by the name of Soul Machines is working on creating digital very humanlike faces for live customer service agents. These automated Customer service agents have the ability to gauge a customer’s expression and respond respectively. A customer service agent ‘Nadia’, voiced by the actress Cate Blanchett, has already been created for the Australian government, while ‘Rachel’ a banking CS agent is near completion. With such promising advancements in this field, the extinction of this job category is quite visible.

What to do, if your job looks vulnerable?

In the current scenario and near future adaptability is the key, with automation taking over, it is advisable for employees to make themselves more and more adaptable, acquire more education and widen their scope. The advancement in technology will always aid man, it will make processes faster and more efficient, generating more revenue; this revenue will generate more jobs creating employment for all.

It is only natural that robots can never take over the world completely; there will always be a need for human force to drive this automation. If man continues to enhance and enrich his mental potential, the world can be a man and machine world but never a robot-dominated world. 


Further reading: 

Your online presence matters to future employers

Avoiding the wrong career path

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