Robotic hands typing on a laptop

AI and Your Job: Don’t Fear the Future

by Felecia Ten Eyck, on March 08, 2018
Just the other day, I was at Target and noticed they’ve introduced self-checkout stations. Amazon recently introduced Amazon Go, a store that is completely automated. With stores introducing AI (Artificial Intelligence) into roles previously filled by a person—what’s happening to those people who lose their jobs? Further, what industries can expect to take a hit and which are safe from automation?

It’s important to keep in mind that ‘AI power’ used over ‘people power’, while increasing, is not a new development. At NASA’s inception, there was a job title for people called “Computers”—mathematician who’d calculate all sorts of complicated formulas and algorithms-- determining things like launch power and trajectories.  This job was eventually taken over in the 1960s by the computers we know of today.  When something can be done faster, more precisely, and with less cost, then it’s hard for a company not to justify the use of AI.

Get to the point: Am I going to lose my job to AI?
You may be wondering, ‘Am I going to lose my job to AI?’ the answer is: it really depends. Below is a very brief sample jobs least likely to be automated and those most likely to do so.
Least Likely to be Computerized Most Like to be Computerized
Recreational Therapist Telemarketers
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers Title Examiners
Emergency Management Directors Seamstresses
Mental Health and Social Workers Mathematical Technicians
Audiologists Insurance Underwriters

You might have noticed that jobs which require certain human components—healthcare relationships for example, cannot be replaced by automation. Further, the daily tasks of these jobs are varied and not always constant. It’s the jobs that are “routine, repetitive, and predictable” that are at most risk (Ford, M- Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future).

Now you’re either saying ‘Whew, I’m safe” or ‘Shoot...I’m going to lose my job’. But fear not, AI isn’t going to take the workforce overnight. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that from 2016-2026 employment in the U.S. is projected to increase by 11.5 million positions...for people, not computers. Further, of the 30 fastest growing jobs, only 18 typically require post-secondary education (  


3 Ways You Can Prepare
If your job is in jeopardy then take a deep breath and prepare yourself so you’re not caught off guard. Here are some things to consider that you can do now to prepare for the future.
  1. Education: The more skills you have, the better your ‘market appeal’ is to the workforce. From certifications, trade schools, internships, and more there are a lot of options to increase your skillset beyond the traditional education route. Even better, see if your employer can chip in with tuition reimbursement.  If you’re wanting to work toward a skill that will help the company, then they’ll be more likely to help you gain that skill. 
  1. Embrace Machines: Computer, phones, emails… they aren’t going anywhere and you need to embrace these tools if you haven’t already. While it’s easy for the newest generations to assimilate them into everyday life, past generations that didn’t grow up with a home computer or iPad can sometime fear or be reluctant to change.
  1. Find Your Passion: That saying “find a job you love and never have to work a day in your like” is really on to something. Now you may be thinking, ‘If I tried to find a job I loved, then I’d be unemployed’. If that’s the case, then take a look at this saying from a different angle. Oftentimes when people think of this quote, they go big. I want to be an astronaut or swim with dolphins---and by all means, if you have the drive, determination, and ability to go for these goals—then go for them. But say you get motion sickness or can’t swim, then those dream jobs may not work out. Take a closer look at what it was about those jobs that appealed to you—maybe it’s that you like space or helping marine life--- you’ll probably find out your passion is actually something quite obtainable. Turns out working at a planetarium or conservation park is within reach and fits your passion- win!
While it seems brutal for a company to cut people from positions, you have to remember that they have a lot on their plate. They want and need to be profitable---which means staying current and even ahead of the industry curve, but a good company should also remember to take care of its employees.

If you are faced with losing your job to AI, see if your company can help you find a new job—maybe there’s another internal opportunity or perhaps they can provide some outplacement assistance in your job search. Technology is not going away and while the human connection to the job force is vital, embrace what tech you can so that you can continue to be a part of that work force.

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Felecia Ten Eyck

Felecia is an HR Assistant and Hiring Expert for LandrumHR Staffing Services in Fort Walton Beach.

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