Money Management

What are the odds you’ll lose your job to a robot? This Oxford study tells you…

By  Elizabeth Blessing

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In a move that caused advertising writers around the world (or at least in Facebook groups) to utter a collective gasp, Chase Bank recently announced it was using artificial intelligence to write its marketing copy.

For the past three years, Chase has been testing an artificial intelligence (AI) tool created by a New York-based tech company, Persado. The AI tool uses machine learning to analyze thousands of ads to essentially teach itself the mechanics of successful copywriting.

As part of the test, Chase pitted short ads written by Persado’s tool versus those written by human copywriters. The goal was to write advertisements that would bring in new prospects to its mortgage and credit card divisions. The competition would be decided by which set of ads garnered the most clicks from people reading them.

And the winner is…

Persado’s tool beat the human copywriters, in some cases by as much as a two-to-one margin. Chase was so pleased with the AI tool’s results, it gave Persado a five-year contract to help write ads across its other marketing platforms. 

The financial giant will use AI to help form new ideas for direct mail campaigns, social media ads, and display ads. They’ll also use it for internal communications and customer service. The company did not mention laying off copywriters in favor of AI, but instead seemed to imply that AI would be working side-by-side with humans.

Where does your job stand in this “machine versus human” competition?

There seems to be little doubt we’ll be seeing more AI encroachment in the workplace and into jobs people traditionally thought could only be performed by humans. Workers shouldn’t be surprised to see more competitions similar to Chase’s, where their abilities are stacked against those of a technological tool.

As we’ve already seen, some machines will replace human workers outright. Some technology, however, will work side-by-side with humans, enhancing our abilities to do a good job. An example of this is the use of robots to help doctors perform delicate surgeries, such as the surgical robotics Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute uses to assist with prostate surgery.

Researchers at Oxford University wanted to find out which jobs were at risk for being replaced by computerization, such as mobile robotics or machine learning. Using the U.S. labor market as their basis, the researchers created a methodology to determine the likelihood of computerization for 702 jobs.

These are the 20 jobs the researchers say are most at risk of being computerized:

  1. Telemarketers
  2. Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers
  3. Hand Sewers
  4. Mathematical Technicians
  5. Insurance Underwriters
  6. Watch Repairers
  7. Cargo and Freight Agents
  8. Tax Preparers
  9. Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators
  10. New Accounts Clerks
  11. Library Technicians
  12. Data Entry Keyers
  13. Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters
  14. Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks
  15. Brokerage Clerks
  16. Order Clerks
  17. Loan Officers
  18. Insurance Appraisers, Auto Damage
  19. Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials
  20. Tellers

And here are the 20 jobs the researchers say are least at risk of being computerized:

  1. Recreational Therapists
  2. First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers
  3. Emergency Management Directors
  4. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
  5. Audiologists
  6. Occupational Therapists
  7. Orthotists and Prosthetists
  8. Healthcare Social Workers
  9. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
  10. First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers
  11. Dietitians and Nutritionists
  12. Lodging Managers
  13. Choreographers
  14. Sales Engineers
  15. Physicians and Surgeons
  16. Instructional Coordinators
  17. Psychologists
  18. First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
  19. Dentists, General
  20. Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education

What’s the best way to protect yourself from losing your job to automation? 

Based on the above lists, it’s clear to see that certain job categories are more susceptible to being taken over by technology and should probably be avoided if you’re just starting out your career. Jobs that require workers to perform routine and predictable tasks are ones that can be more easily replaced by computerization. We’ve already seen this for decades in manufacturing plants where robots have replaced the manual labor once performed by assembly-line workers.

What the researchers in the Oxford study have discovered, however, is a shift toward more advanced computerization entering job categories where higher-level cognitive skills are required. With advanced algorithms, machines can go beyond just replacing manual labor and can now replace jobs that require these higher-level skills as long as the main tasks are fairly repetitive. This is why jobs like data entry and telemarketing are at the top of the list for replacement by automation.

What the researchers call “high-income cognitive jobs” are the ones that will be harder to be replaced by computerization. These are the jobs that offer better opportunities for those looking to enter the job market or those people who are willing to retrain themselves for a new career.

If you look at the list of jobs least likely to be replaced by automation, you’ll see many of them are healthcare related and/or require direct contact with other humans. These jobs frequently require higher levels of education and they also require social intelligence, the ability to be empathetic toward fellow human beings. It will be harder to replace these occupations with automation, although workers in these fields will use automation tools to enhance their own performance.

What do you think about the rapid advancements of AI in the workplace? Are you worried it will cost you your job? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

One comment

  1. Wow. This is really something @eblessing! As someone who has a passion for VR technology, I have read lots of related articles about AI and robotics, and their help/harm potential to job security. There are exceptions, of course, but I tend to believe that for every job that AI, robotics, and automation take away, there will be another job created somewhere to fix it when it breaks, but I acknowledge that the person who gets replaced by a machine is rarely going to be the person that is hired to be the maintenance tech.

    I really love the lists you provided. I’ve seen and heard lots of generalizations bandied about, but I don’t recall ever seeing a Top 20 list that defines which jobs and job functions are at the greatest risk.

    I find it interesting that the very industry that seems to be best insulated from a robot takeover also happens to be the one that has seen some of the greatest and most beneficial uses of robotics: healthcare. I saw a demo of a surgical robot that was developed for spinal cord surgeries, and let me tell you, I would 1000% rather have that thing working on me than a human. A robot doesn’t get tired, have to take bathroom breaks, or have to worry about unsteady hands. Being able to make precise, micrometer movements and incisions without flinching at all sounds like something I would want if a sharp knife was ever in close proximity to my spinal cord!

    Then again, the representation of a 100% post-automation humanity that we saw in Wall*E wasn’t very pleasing either, unless big, soft, doughy people in red jumpsuits are your thing, I guess.

    Where do you see robots helping/hurting people in your profession, first?

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