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Old 08-09-2019, 02:09 PM
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Which jobs will be last to be automated/outsourced?


This might be an IMHO threat, but I spend more time in GD.

The thread on banning automation got me thinking about which jobs would be last to be automated and/or outsourced to cheaper labor markets.

Here are my contributions:

Plumber -- they have to deal with too many special cases in too many strange spaces for a robot to be successful

Electrician -- see Plumber

Nurse -- This is a hands on job that people will likely want to keep some human interaction, and can't be done remotely (unlike doctor/surgeon -- see below)


Unexpected jobs that may face significant reductions in force, outsourcing, etc., in my view:

Doctor -- expert systems and AI may someday soon get to the point where they are better than humans. For those cases where a human is important, there's no reason why a qualified doctor from, say, India, couldn't provide the final OK. I think I read that Google has an AI that reads x-rays better than doctors or technicians.

Lawyer -- Lots of contractual work may someday be done by an AI or expert system, or at least able to assist a lawyer, reducing the need for lawyers or paralegals. Accounting software has already done this for tax accountants, for example.

Surgeon -- Robotic surgeons seem like a no-brainer to me, especially when assisted by a human nurse. For those types of surgery where this isn't possible, it seems eminently feasible to outsource routine surgery to remote surgeons, getting help from robotics and nurses

Truck drivers, pilots, cab drivers, train engineers seem almost too obvious to discuss, when looking forward to the next few decades.

Thoughts?

(Note -- I will be away from a computer starting soon for most of the rest of the weekend, so I may not be back to comment for a little while.)

Last edited by RitterSport; 08-09-2019 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:29 PM
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There was an old Last Week Tonight episode about this where John Oliver quoted the definition work & automation experts opine will still be needed for the foreseeable future. Give me a second to look it up : there it is : "A series of non-routine tasks that require social intelligence, critical thinking and creative problem-solving" (though that should be and/or IMO - a plumber doesn't really need social intelligence nor creative problem-solving for example)
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Old 08-09-2019, 02:55 PM
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A plumber absolutely does need creative problem solving. I suspect surgeons do, too, for many of the same reasons.

How about massage therapists, hair dressers, and prostitutes? Not a lot of creative problem solving or critical thinking, but I think customers put a high value on the human touch in all of those fields.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:08 PM
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I guess it depends on what you mean by automated. All those jobs you mentioned already have some automation in them, after all, since they use things like expert systems, AI and other automation tools. If you mean so that only a robot does them, then I'd say something in the entertainment sector. Author, content creator, that sort of thing. Pretty much anything that has any sort of repetition leads itself to automation. Nurses could be automated, as not only could you use AI and expert systems to monitor people and administer medicine or treatments you could have robots do a lot of the chores nurses do as well. Same goes for doctors...they already are using automation to assist in surgery as well as AI and expert systems to help doctors track trends, and there is no reason that can't or won't continue.

That said, I seriously doubt we'll ever get to the 'last' job to be automated, as I think what will end up happening is a further merging of human with AI/expert system and robotics. All have strengths and weaknesses, but combined I think what will be found is that they work better with a combination, not separately.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:47 PM
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I suspect from a more white collar perspective, there'll still be a fair demand for analysts who can basically interpret what the end users want into what the AI computer programmers will understand.

I figure if AI gets to the point where it can quiz a semi-Luddite guy working in the field for a public utility about what he needs the mobile device and computer system to do, and then translate that into actual system modifications, pretty much ANY job can be automated at that point. We'll have AI that can use intuition, metaphor, analogy, etc...

Oddly I think everyday handymen will be a long time in being replaced, because a lot of the time, maintenance work like they do is basically applied creative problem solving. If it was all just measuring, cutting, screwing, etc... then it would be easily automated. But being able to identify what's wrong and fix it on something that's been repaired multiple times in the past with a mishmash of techniques and parts is something people can do, but machines currently cannot.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:52 PM
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President.
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:04 PM
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President.
https://news.sky.com/story/disney-un...-park-11177652



I do think that dog groomer will hold out even longer than hair dresser.

A human would adapt to being worked on by a robot. I don't know if a dog would be as easily trainable.
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Old 08-09-2019, 05:40 PM
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A plumber absolutely does need creative problem solving. I suspect surgeons do, too, for many of the same reasons.
I suppose that depends on what we mean by "creative problem solving" - a body is a body is a body, the surgeon might have trouble cutting that one up right because some dumb vein's in the way ; but he rarely has to invent an entirely new tool to cut it up or an entire new way to use a bloody knife. Same for the plumber, who might come across some weird configurations that require some kludging, or some ass backwards kludging that requires a complete re-configuration ; but he rarely has to invent new techniques on the spot like, say, a software engineer, a particle physicist or a chef has to. Both plumber and surgeon take the majority their solutions to problems from a pre-learned, pre-trained toolbox, applying whichever one will/should fit their immediate circumstances.

That being said, yeah, I don't see any construction job (architect, electrician, plumber, mason, locksmith, etc...) being replaced by bots any time soon. Unless we move to exclusive block construction and every single housing unit is the exact same, but I don't see that happening at all.

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How about massage therapists, hair dressers, and prostitutes? Not a lot of creative problem solving or critical thinking
Some folks pay good money for an extra critical prostitute. Or so I've heard. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Old 08-09-2019, 06:09 PM
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That's not a robot. That's basically a big Chatty Cathy.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:21 PM
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That's not a robot. That's basically a big Chatty Cathy.
True, but I can see as technology progresses a bit, public functions could be done by tele-presence robot. A hundred years ago, If you wanted to see the president, you had to go to Washington, or he had to come to you. Now we have TV, and we can have the president visit out living room anytime we want. This is just the next logical step.

Save a ton on security and transportation costs, so the jobs lost to automation would be in protection and logistics services.

Last edited by k9bfriender; 08-09-2019 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 08:24 PM
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I think jobs will continue to change over time but the idea that automation will actually cause everything to be automated ignores human nature. In fact we've already automated thousands of times more capacity than existed when we started the industrial revolution. Production that only exists because of improved production tech that has been itself been made obsolete again and again over the last 200 years.

The current AI fad is also massively overblown. Yes software is getting better at certain fuzzy problems but we are a long way away from some kind of human replacement level AI. Up until that points these are simply more powerful tools for us to use.

In addition more jobs will appear because of these new tools. Jobs we can't even anticipate. In 1992 nobody had ever even heard of a web designer for example, but it's a highly paid job today that a lot of people do.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:08 PM
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Auto mechanic and other technician jobs like hvac tech.

They require a high level of manual dexterity as well as cognitive skills. Robots lack the manual dexterity to do those jobs.

Also they pay better than minimum wage, but they don't pay a huge amount so there is less incentive to buy a robot compared to a job like a surgeon or lawyer.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:44 PM
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Auto mechanic and other technician jobs like hvac tech.

They require a high level of manual dexterity as well as cognitive skills. Robots lack the manual dexterity to do those jobs.

Also they pay better than minimum wage, but they don't pay a huge amount so there is less incentive to buy a robot compared to a job like a surgeon or lawyer.
There is incentive to replace low wage workers because of the volume of work, and the ability of robots to work 24/7. There might be fewer techs, supervising dozens of robots. There will be (human) robot mechanics, whose jobs will be gradually automated until they themselves are largely superfluous.

Robots are dextrous enough to repair machinery and electronics now. They can fold clothes (but not socks yet) and pick delicate fruit without destroying the objects.

Here's a recent thread from Hacker News where programmers and lawyers speculate on the utility of coding and automation in the legal profession:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20635659
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Old 08-10-2019, 12:13 AM
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Gigolo, and whore.
It's quintessentially the human aspect that has economic value. Since youth is generally a professional prerequisite, there is a constant turn over, and the gradual automation of the pimp/madam aspects of the industry will have to stop at the low end of the hierarchy. Even exquisitely realistic human robots will fail on the cost/profitability equation, and elitist customer pretentiousness will ensure the market for a "real" human.

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Old 08-10-2019, 08:46 AM
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I'm guessing it's a job that will be created by automation -- one that doesn't exist yet.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:58 AM
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No matter how automated labor becomes, there will always be a niche for human service.

Even if a robot is better, there are some that prefer the pretentiousness of having a human do the work.

High end restaurants will still have human chefs, and they will still whip their meringue by hand, even if a robot can do it faster and better.
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Old 08-10-2019, 12:18 PM
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Gigolo, and whore.
yes, you are right .
But not just about those two professions: most jobs which require touching other people will not be automated.
A computer may be more accurate than a doctor at diagnosing symptoms,but the computer can't stick a piece of wood down your throat to look at your tonsils.
A robot may be able to bring food to the table--but it can't feed a baby, or an adult with dementia.
A robot cannot change a diaper.

So there will always be jobs for humans who take care of other humans.
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Old 08-10-2019, 12:41 PM
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Gigolo, and whore.
It's quintessentially the human aspect that has economic value. Since youth is generally a professional prerequisite, there is a constant turn over, and the gradual automation of the pimp/madam aspects of the industry will have to stop at the low end of the hierarchy. Even exquisitely realistic human robots will fail on the cost/profitability equation, and elitist customer pretentiousness will ensure the market for a "real" human.

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Oh, I bet the robostitutes will have plenty of business.
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Old 08-10-2019, 01:47 PM
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Well, it certainly isn't drafting, considering all I did to automate my jobs.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:01 PM
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I predict that the rate of automation will actually slow down, because we have been picking the low-hanging fruit first. We will NEVER be at a point where even 50% of our citizens are unemployed due to automation. I'd be surprised if we saw the unemployment rate drop by more than a few percentage points because of automation.

I have been having this debate since the 1980's in college. The robot apocalypse was always 10-20 years away. And 35 years later, it still is...

Humans have general intelligence and judgement. AI's do not. They can do very specific things very well, but they can't improvise or adapt in a general way.

There seems to be a misconception that workers are just drones mindlessly carrying out the plans set down from on high. That information flow in a company goes one way - from the planners and the deciders on top, down to the worker bees. If those bees could all be replaced by robots, we couldn't need jobs any more.

But that's not the way organizations actually work. Information flows two ways. Decisions get made on top, then when they are implemented there is a feedback loop where the workers either adapt to flaws in the plan (there are ALWAYS flaws in grand plans), or they tell their supervisors what can or can't be done, and the plan is modified accordingly. Sometimes they actually find better ways to do things, because the planners don't know what they know, and the process gets improved.

If you want to see what happens when the 'worker bees' just mindlessly follow the plan regardless of whether it makes sense, watch what happens to any organization when its workers go on a 'work to rule' strike. Even with a corporation, the day-to-day activities are far too difficult to perfectly plan, and managers absolutely require that people be able to modify things that don't work or report them back. Robots won't do that. Robots always 'work to rule'.

I have visited many factories, and looked at many production plans. None of them actually match what's going on on the factory floor. There are always little exceptions, things missed by the planners, that the workers are smart enough to work around. One of the hardest things about automation is covering the last 1% of exceptions that prevent humans from being taken out of the loop. Elon Musk tried to build a 'dark' factory that was just robots. He failed. He then admitted that automation is far harder than he thought it would be - especially for complex products.

Take the example of truck driver -a favourite candidate for a job that will go away soon. After all, when driving is automated, who needs human truckers?

Except truck drivers do a LOT more than drive the truck. They are responsible for making sure loads are loaded in order, secured properly, and correct. They act as agents for the trucking company, or are self-employed. They are security for the load, they learn to detect incipient problems with the truck. They deal with emergencies, and have to handle situations like road accidents where police are controlling traffic with visual indications. Sometimes they have to go off-plan, like when they get to a customer's site and the load isn't ready, or a vehicle is blocking the loading docks.

I could go on and on. A million little decisions requiring judgement. The ability to improvise when necessary. These types of characteristics are crucial in many jobs, even if 90% of the time the job is rote. It's the times when it's not that automation will fail you.

Also, you have to look at the environment around the truckers. Before you can automate you need fully digitized processes. You need common databases. You need commonality in loading systems, and probably new systems for allowing automated vehicles to handle things like construction zones, accident zones, road damage and the rest. An ad-hoc, patchwork system cannot be automated. But it can be run by people. A lot of our systems today are like that. Container shipping did that - they standardized processes to allow for automating of loading and unloading. Containers are all uniform in size, attach points, etc. It took decades to get to that level of standardization. And even now, lots of people work on those loading docks.

Will will see a LOT more automation. But we will also see demand for more workers. That's been the pattern ever since the Luddites tried to shut down automated weaving, and there's nothing fundamentally different about automation today - except that now the people being effected have social media to complain about it, and the jobs under threat now are the jobs held by influential people instead of, say, millions of agricultural workers.

Or as the saying goes, if immigrants were primarily made up of competition for politicians and lawyers, the borders would be closed tighter than a drum. Automation was good so long as it was destroying the jobs of farmers and assembly line workers, but now that it's coming for the accountants, lawyers, professors and other intellectuals, suddenly it's a major crisis.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:15 PM
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A comedian will never be automated so I suppose it's not a good answer to your question.

I think a television continuity announcer could be automated soon though, even though that's thought of as a very human job and at first glance might not seem that different from a comedian's job (i.e. a human talking to other humans). On some small channels the announcer does little more than "at 9pm it's programme x, now it's time for programme y". Lots of these are pre-recorded and used repeatedly already. It is cheap to get an announcer to record that once and just repeat that audio when you need it but what if there's a last minute schedule change? Most small channels don't have an announcer on hand so instead they go with something really generic. A computer could easily generate a realistic sounding voice that says the new message you really need it to say. Scheduled TV channels are diminishing to some extent but they'll still be around for another decade or two and you can be sure that budgets will be tightened. Announcers are a bit of a luxury for small channels but small channels are numerous and ran by big companies with the technology to make it happen at scale.
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:17 PM
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I predict that the rate of automation will actually slow down, because we have been picking the low-hanging fruit first. We will NEVER be at a point where even 50% of our citizens are unemployed due to automation. I'd be surprised if we saw the unemployment rate drop by more than a few percentage points because of automation.

I have been having this debate since the 1980's in college. The robot apocalypse was always 10-20 years away. And 35 years later, it still is...

Humans have general intelligence and judgement. AI's do not. They can do very specific things very well, but they can't improvise or adapt in a general way.

There seems to be a misconception that workers are just drones mindlessly carrying out the plans set down from on high. That information flow in a company goes one way - from the planners and the deciders on top, down to the worker bees. If those bees could all be replaced by robots, we couldn't need jobs any more.

But that's not the way organizations actually work. Information flows two ways. Decisions get made on top, then when they are implemented there is a feedback loop where the workers either adapt to flaws in the plan (there are ALWAYS flaws in grand plans), or they tell their supervisors what can or can't be done, and the plan is modified accordingly. Sometimes they actually find better ways to do things, because the planners don't know what they know, and the process gets improved.

If you want to see what happens when the 'worker bees' just mindlessly follow the plan regardless of whether it makes sense, watch what happens to any organization when its workers go on a 'work to rule' strike. Even with a corporation, the day-to-day activities are far too difficult to perfectly plan, and managers absolutely require that people be able to modify things that don't work or report them back. Robots won't do that. Robots always 'work to rule'.

I have visited many factories, and looked at many production plans. None of them actually match what's going on on the factory floor. There are always little exceptions, things missed by the planners, that the workers are smart enough to work around. One of the hardest things about automation is covering the last 1% of exceptions that prevent humans from being taken out of the loop. Elon Musk tried to build a 'dark' factory that was just robots. He failed. He then admitted that automation is far harder than he thought it would be - especially for complex products.

Take the example of truck driver -a favourite candidate for a job that will go away soon. After all, when driving is automated, who needs human truckers?

Except truck drivers do a LOT more than drive the truck. They are responsible for making sure loads are loaded in order, secured properly, and correct. They act as agents for the trucking company, or are self-employed. They are security for the load, they learn to detect incipient problems with the truck. They deal with emergencies, and have to handle situations like road accidents where police are controlling traffic with visual indications. Sometimes they have to go off-plan, like when they get to a customer's site and the load isn't ready, or a vehicle is blocking the loading docks.

I could go on and on. A million little decisions requiring judgement. The ability to improvise when necessary. These types of characteristics are crucial in many jobs, even if 90% of the time the job is rote. It's the times when it's not that automation will fail you.

Also, you have to look at the environment around the truckers. Before you can automate you need fully digitized processes. You need common databases. You need commonality in loading systems, and probably new systems for allowing automated vehicles to handle things like construction zones, accident zones, road damage and the rest. An ad-hoc, patchwork system cannot be automated. But it can be run by people. A lot of our systems today are like that. Container shipping did that - they standardized processes to allow for automating of loading and unloading. Containers are all uniform in size, attach points, etc. It took decades to get to that level of standardization. And even now, lots of people work on those loading docks.

Will will see a LOT more automation. But we will also see demand for more workers. That's been the pattern ever since the Luddites tried to shut down automated weaving, and there's nothing fundamentally different about automation today - except that now the people being effected have social media to complain about it, and the jobs under threat now are the jobs held by influential people instead of, say, millions of agricultural workers.

Or as the saying goes, if immigrants were primarily made up of competition for politicians and lawyers, the borders would be closed tighter than a drum. Automation was good so long as it was destroying the jobs of farmers and assembly line workers, but now that it's coming for the accountants, lawyers, professors and other intellectuals, suddenly it's a major crisis.
I have to agree with this. Just look at apps available on your smartphone, many of them have easily replaced human mental processes. Physical processes are much more expensive and difficult to replace unless it’s a repetitive task in a highly controlled environment, aka moving standardized product in a factory.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:19 AM
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Sam, it seems like you're saying that unemployment as high as 50% would be no big deal. Did I misunderstand?

Regarding trucking, self-driving trucks are already here. Just one cite:

https://www.foxbusiness.com/technolo...n-dallas-texas

On the subject of AI, I agree that AIs don't currently have general intelligence, but I disagree that they never will. That's a discussion for a different thread, though.

Automation has been decried all along, not just now that it may replace some lawyers and other professional positions. Where do you get the idea otherwise? The Luddites are the obvious example, but it has always caused pain and disruption -- read Player Piano by Vonnegut.

So what, though? That's not what this thread is about. It's about which jobs are safest from automation.

I disagree about prostitutes being all that safe from automation. Sure, there will always be some high end ones, but I have to imagine that RealDoll version X (that is, some really well-made version in the future) will take the place of some large segment of the working ladies and men. There are already brothels that use dolls, I believe, and I imagine these versions are basically beta compared to what's coming in the next few decades.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:21 AM
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Sam, it seems like you're saying that unemployment as high as 50% would be no big deal. Did I misunderstand?
Lol yes.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:24 AM
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So what, though? That's not what this thread is about. It's about which jobs are safest from automation.
Since automation creates jobs, the jobs that haven't yet been created are probably the safest.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:42 AM
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Since automation creates jobs, the jobs that haven't yet been created are probably the safest.
Thanks. Very helpful.

Since this thread is about jobs that currently exist, do you have anything to add? Or, did you mean to post this in the "Ban Automation" thread?
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:22 AM
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Since this thread is about jobs that currently exist, do you have anything to add?
We can only respond to the thread you started, not the one you imagined you started. If you wanted a different thread than what you actually wrote, then English more better next time. It's 100% responsive to the title and OP. The last jobs to be automated will be ones that automation hasn't created yet.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:42 AM
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Professional Athletes should last awhile.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:08 AM
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We can only respond to the thread you started, not the one you imagined you started. If you wanted a different thread than what you actually wrote, then English more better next time. It's 100% responsive to the title and OP. The last jobs to be automated will be ones that automation hasn't created yet.
Should I ask a mod to change the title to "Which current jobs..."? Everyone else seems to have figured out what I meant. Maybe your post is responsive, but it's useless and uninteresting.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:11 AM
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Professional Athletes should last awhile.
Agreed, and I agree with the comedian comment earlier. Artists as well, I think.

I could see a diminished role for actors if CGI continues apace. Even voice actors -- there's this Google service that makes reservations for you and it sounds pretty lifelike, inserting ums and pauses to make it seem more human. Give that a couple more decades.
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:28 AM
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Should I ask a mod to change the title to "Which current jobs..."? Everyone else seems to have figured out what I meant. Maybe your post is responsive, but it's useless and uninteresting.
It's also entirely correct - unless you did actually want a mindless list of difficult to automate jobs more fitting to IMHO?

When asking what jobs will be last to be automated, we're looking into a future where 99.9% of current jobs are automated (or are some impossible to automate?) This future involves new jobs being created (i.e. maintenance roles in case the automation goes wrong), but those jobs themselves might be replaced eventually too.

If we follow automation to its logical conclusion, then yes, all aspects of drudge work will eventually be covered, including roles created to ensure such drudge work is functioning correctly. In this future there are no jobs, only hobbies (politics/art/athletics/etc).

Will people even bother with prositutes if VR gives you the same experience (and potentially superior?)

Last edited by Fake Tales of San Francisco; 08-12-2019 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:38 AM
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It's also entirely correct - unless you did actually want a mindless list of difficult to automate jobs more fitting to IMHO?

When asking what jobs will be last to be automated, we're looking into a future where 99.9% of current jobs are automated (or are some impossible to automate?) This future involves new jobs being created (i.e. maintenance roles in case the automation goes wrong), but those jobs themselves might be replaced eventually too.

If we follow automation to its logical conclusion, then yes, all aspects of drudge work will eventually be covered, including roles created to ensure such drudge work is functioning correctly. In this future there are no jobs, only hobbies (politics/art/athletics/etc).

Will people even bother with prositutes if VR gives you the same experience (and potentially superior?)
See, I would have thought radiologist would have been a difficult job to replace with an AI, and yet Google is getting results as good or better than humans when using an AI to read some kinds of x-rays. I think that's interesting, you don't. That's fine, no one is forcing you to post here. Ruken's post was uninteresting to me because there's nothing to discuss -- of course there will be different jobs in the future. Big deal. As I mentioned, other people contributed with their own thoughts on which current jobs will likely stick around. One mentioned prostitutes and gigolos, and you and I are both skeptical that will be the case -- see? A debate can happen.

If a college student came to me and asked what medical field do I think she should pursue, I'd probably say, well, not radiology. Oral surgeon, maybe? Gynecologist? Will there need to be as many general practitioners in 20 years with the coming combination of expert systems and greater use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners?
  #33  
Old 08-12-2019, 09:09 AM
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I think a television continuity announcer could be automated soon though, even though that's thought of as a very human job and at first glance might not seem that different from a comedian's job (i.e. a human talking to other humans). On some small channels the announcer does little more than "at 9pm it's programme x, now it's time for programme y".
The US National Weather Service already has some kind of automated, synthesized speech thing that reads the weather forecasts on NOAA weather radio.

It's also clearly been around a while; it sounds like a Speak and Spell.

I'd think that if they can already automate the reading of a forecast, they could very easily have a computer interpret the programming schedule (especially if there is some kind of standardized metadata) and spit out little speech blurbs that could be inserted between them.

Personally, I think what we're going to see isn't going to be wholesale automation and elimination of human jobs, but rather we'll see the jobs transform into some sort of collaboration between people and the machines.

For example, I don't think that deep learning AI/expert systems and surgical robots are going to replace doctors or nurses. Rather what you'll have is a collaboration between the two. Same thing for truck drivers- maybe the truck driver can just sleep or whatever on the long distance part, but take over when there's a situation that the AI can't quite cope with. Or a sports coach; an AI having watched thousands (millions?) of games will have a very good opinion of what the best play/lineup should be for a given situation, but a good coach isn't always going to do that either. He'd be stupid to entirely disregard the AI, but just as stupid to rely totally on it as well.

I also think that where we'll see the biggest AI/automation gains is in problems that are currently too dangerous/time consuming/onerous for people to do for a reasonable wage, but that need doing. For example, apparently sorting stuff for recycling is a monumental PITA. But it would seem to me that it could be something ripe for exactly the sort of deep learning/neural net/AI type approach- you'd have to train your garbage picking robot, but once it (and hopefully thousands of networked others) was trained, you could set it loose, and with the appropriate feedback mechanisms, it would learn and get better as it went, AND share that information with all the other garbage picking robots in other cities who would also be sharing that info. So they would all get really good at identifying garbage bags from tissue paper faster than any one would.
  #34  
Old 08-12-2019, 09:20 AM
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The US National Weather Service already has some kind of automated, synthesized speech thing that reads the weather forecasts on NOAA weather radio.

It's also clearly been around a while; it sounds like a Speak and Spell.

I'd think that if they can already automate the reading of a forecast, they could very easily have a computer interpret the programming schedule (especially if there is some kind of standardized metadata) and spit out little speech blurbs that could be inserted between them.

Personally, I think what we're going to see isn't going to be wholesale automation and elimination of human jobs, but rather we'll see the jobs transform into some sort of collaboration between people and the machines.

For example, I don't think that deep learning AI/expert systems and surgical robots are going to replace doctors or nurses. Rather what you'll have is a collaboration between the two. Same thing for truck drivers- maybe the truck driver can just sleep or whatever on the long distance part, but take over when there's a situation that the AI can't quite cope with. Or a sports coach; an AI having watched thousands (millions?) of games will have a very good opinion of what the best play/lineup should be for a given situation, but a good coach isn't always going to do that either. He'd be stupid to entirely disregard the AI, but just as stupid to rely totally on it as well.

I also think that where we'll see the biggest AI/automation gains is in problems that are currently too dangerous/time consuming/onerous for people to do for a reasonable wage, but that need doing. For example, apparently sorting stuff for recycling is a monumental PITA. But it would seem to me that it could be something ripe for exactly the sort of deep learning/neural net/AI type approach- you'd have to train your garbage picking robot, but once it (and hopefully thousands of networked others) was trained, you could set it loose, and with the appropriate feedback mechanisms, it would learn and get better as it went, AND share that information with all the other garbage picking robots in other cities who would also be sharing that info. So they would all get really good at identifying garbage bags from tissue paper faster than any one would.
I agree about the recycling jobs -- advances in computer vision have really blown my mind over the last few years. Point your phone at a plant or animal and it knows what it is. Google Photos can identify people at different ages, facing in different directions, with different expressions, etc. Truly amazing!

I also agree that automation likely won't eliminate all humans doing a particular job, but can certainly imagine much higher productivity, with one human working with many AIs/robots/whatever, where it took multiple people before. So, I could see one surgeon supervising the work of multiple surgery robots, stepping in when necessary. And, that surgeon may be able to work remotely, from a much lower-wage country. The price of routine surgeries could really plummet!
  #35  
Old 08-12-2019, 04:58 PM
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I also think that child and eldercare will be among the last things automated, and they can't really be outsourced. Scratch that, they will be among the last things successfully automated - I think someone(s) will try it at least a few times before realizing that the Harlow monkey experiments apply to vulnerable humans too, and wire caretakers just won't do. I'd like to think that children warehoused in orphanages without much human contact developing RAD would be all the proof needed, but you know it won't be and we'll have some little damaged humans or a lot of dead elders before they give up on the idea of having robots wipe butts and fill mouths.
  #36  
Old 08-12-2019, 10:44 PM
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Fruit picking and some other agricultural jobs. Those skills where there's some gross motor skills, some fine motor skills, and some skills in detecting what to pick, like colour recognition. Yeah, you could probably make some robot that did all that, though it's still a distant dream. If you could, it would still be cheaper to employ hordes of people to harvest crops.

Looking at a tree, seeing it's a tree, seeing it's an orange tree, seeing that the oranges are ripe enough, and then reaching out to various heights, while moving among those trees on slightly uneven ground, and plucking the orange off without squeezing it hard, and putting it down without bruising it. No current technology could pluck an orange off a tree without damaging it. And there are hordes of people out there willing to do it for less than the money you'd spend for robots to do it instead.


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I also think that child and eldercare will be among the last things automated, and they can't really be outsourced. Scratch that, they will be among the last things successfully automated - I think someone(s) will try it at least a few times before realizing that the Harlow monkey experiments apply to vulnerable humans too, and wire caretakers just won't do. I'd like to think that children warehoused in orphanages without much human contact developing RAD would be all the proof needed, but you know it won't be and we'll have some little damaged humans or a lot of dead elders before they give up on the idea of having robots wipe butts and fill mouths.
Without the Brave New World concept you're envisaging, I agree.

Three reasons:

The human options have many and long-term examples of why they're better. We've had online learning for a long time.

Most people will want their children and elders cared for by people.

It's cheap. It's always been a low-pay job.
  #37  
Old 08-15-2019, 05:18 PM
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I'm surprised at all the people who have put "surgeon" above "plumber" on the easy to automate scale. I'm not sure you're wrong, but it definitely conflicts with my intuition.

I disagree with a lot of Sam's analysis, although I think it's well supported historically and I agree that there's a lot of hysteria over things right now. I don't think we're headed for a near-term jobless apocalypse.

But there are two claims that I think are fundamentally wrong.

1. Because a job is hard to 100% define, it's safe from automation until all 100% can be automated

For example, the fact that truck drivers do lots of little things that don't slot nicely into the sorts of things that a driving AI can do (maybe. Jury's still out a bit on whether a driving AI can do the driving part well enough) won't help keep most truck drivers on the job.

A truck's load doesn't need to be secured by the guy piloting it. In the rare cases where police direction needs to be followed, a remote worker can take over, etc.

The problem is that if 95% of a trucker's duties can be automated, the industry can end up needing only 5% of the workers it used to have as the easy stuff is automated.

Travel agents are a good example of this. They still exist! They industry has not vanished. But, also, it's way smaller than it used to be. Because the easy parts got automated away. Remaining workers handle the corner cases that were hard to automate, but there are a lot fewer of them. Corner cases and complexity will not save your job unless you are particularly good at the corner cases.

2. Because humans are adaptable, there will always be work for them.

The problem with this is that each individual human has to be trained, and the more complicated the problem, the more training it takes. Algorithms and robots, on the other hand, just keep getting better.

Believing that humans' mental plasticity will always beat that of software seems as misguided as believing that horses' physical prowess would always beat machinery. The latter was true for a long long time, until it wasn't.

There seems to be a clear natural limit to human intelligence. It's not clear to me that there is a limit to machine intelligence.
  #38  
Old 08-15-2019, 07:37 PM
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Auto mechanic and other technician jobs like hvac tech.
I agree that auto mechanics are unlikely to be automated or outsourced for the reasons you describe, however if electric vehicles become the predominant type of car then there may be less work for auto mechanics in the future. Sure, EVs will occasionally break and need to be fixed, but they don't need routine maintenance like oil changes and tune ups. And they have way fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine car; no transmission, for example.
  #39  
Old 08-15-2019, 08:09 PM
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Psychologists/therapists. No one will want to go talk to the robot who replaced their counselor about their distress at being replaced by a robot.
  #40  
Old 08-15-2019, 09:42 PM
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Looking at a tree, seeing it's a tree, seeing it's an orange tree, seeing that the oranges are ripe enough, and then reaching out to various heights, while moving among those trees on slightly uneven ground, and plucking the orange off without squeezing it hard, and putting it down without bruising it. No current technology could pluck an orange off a tree without damaging it. And there are hordes of people out there willing to do it for less than the money you'd spend for robots to do it instead.
There is a lot of activity in this area and progress is being made. You're right the economics won't make sense right away but I think they will start to really be used within the next 10 years.
  #41  
Old 08-16-2019, 02:01 AM
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No current technology could pluck an orange off a tree without damaging it. And there are hordes of people out there willing to do it for less than the money you'd spend for robots to do it instead.
Here is a video of a robot arm picking up an egg. With feedback from sensors in the grip, a robot could pick an orange easily. Putting the gripper on an arm, with a camera at the edge, could do the job pretty simply.
Now no robot today could do it cheaper than underpaid workers, true. There are jobs in factories in SE Asia that could be automated but aren't because the workers are cheaper than the robots. But if labor becomes expensive due to restrictions on immigration, this might change in the US.
  #42  
Old 08-22-2019, 10:45 AM
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President.
Recently read a novel by Todd McCaulty, The Robots of Gotham. Where many of the nations around the world had either elected AI to be their leaders or been overthrown by AI.

Quote:
After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines.
Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.
  #43  
Old 08-23-2019, 05:55 AM
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Looking at a tree, seeing it's a tree, seeing it's an orange tree, seeing that the oranges are ripe enough, and then reaching out to various heights, while moving among those trees on slightly uneven ground, and plucking the orange off without squeezing it hard, and putting it down without bruising it.
Why does it have to be one robot? And robots have had the uneven ground thing waxed for years now.
Quote:


No current technology could pluck an orange off a tree without damaging it.
I don't think you're up to speed on current robot gripper tech. In addition to Voyager's electro-adhesive example, there's soft pneumatic tentacle grippers and my personal favourite, vacuum coffee ground balloon grippers
  #44  
Old 08-23-2019, 06:38 AM
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Now we have TV, and we can have the president visit out living room anytime we want. This is just the next logical step.
How long before hologram TV becomes a serious prospect ?

The obvious area for expansion of IRL tasks, especially in economies with ageing populations, is personal/social care - not so much medical or paramedical nursing as domiciliary care, like lifting, toileting, and just checking that someone's eating properly, entertained and not isolated.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:43 PM
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There is only one correct answer to this: AI developer.

This is by definition: as long as there remain jobs that humans can be paid to do, there will be others who want to automate those jobs and thus collect what humans would otherwise be paid.

So they will pay AI developers to do it.(note that early AI developers will need to keep learning new skills or they will be unemployable)

By definition, once AI developers develop ai advanced enough to develop itself to automate all remaining jobs, they will in turn lose their jobs as well.

So it really is the last job.

Last edited by SamuelA; 08-23-2019 at 06:43 PM.
  #46  
Old 08-23-2019, 11:08 PM
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Politicians and philosophers.
Morticians and models.
Bouncers and pole dancers.
  #47  
Old 08-26-2019, 02:03 AM
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I think a lot of people substitute a sense (accurate or not) that some things will not be able to be automated in the next 25 years, for “never happen”. But those are very different things. This country still operates on a constitution created 230 years ago, and our institutions have operated continuously since then. Every Supreme Court justice and every member of Congress serves with people who served with people who served with men who served with men who served with men who were part of those institutions 200 years ago. The buildings they work in have been there about the same amount of time. Are you really confident that 200 years from now, those “never” occupations will still be impossible to automate?

Or how about major religions like Islam and Christianity, that still operate out of playbooks written over a thousand years ago? Confident that 1,000 years from now, we won’t be able to automate virtually everything? These periods of time are not really so long.

As for the OP’s question, the kind of construction work involved in creating new buildings is already in the process of being automated. I do agree that handyman/fixit type stuff is much more difficult, but we may find that in the future it will be much cheaper to simply knock down a building and have a new one constructed in its place rather than repairing it. Or construction may be modular, and it will just involve a machine removing one section of a building and replacing it with a brand new module. At which point no one will know how to repair anything. We have already gone a significant way towards this state of affairs with electronics.

While legal work done in the office is on the cusp of being automated, I don’t believe people will accept robot lawyers or judges in courtrooms. So trial lawyers and politicians may be the last to go (other than people who work in boutique operations for rich people, doing a human version of a job that is otherwise mostly automated), which is kind of funny given how unpopular they are.
  #48  
Old 08-26-2019, 09:04 AM
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Religious officials. Food service workers. Roofers. Gardeners.
  #49  
Old 08-27-2019, 12:22 PM
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As we've discussed many times in the past, people often have the wrong idea about "automation". They imagine that one day we invent a robot travel agent, and on that day human travel agents are obsolete.

But automation typically doesn't work like that. We don't usually replace humans with automation that does what the humans do, we replace it with a system that eliminates the need for as many humans. So we don't have a robot with a scrub-brush washing the dishes, replacing the human scullery maid. Instead we have a washing machine, which washes the dishes in a completely different way than a human being would. But the dishwashing system still requires a human being to load the dishes and remove them. So rather than ten guys with scrubbers cleaning the dishes, you have one guy loading racks into the dishwashing system, and one guy unloading racks.

Or you have the replacement of the gas station attendant. The real change isn't the gas pump, but the payment system, where you just get out and put in your card, and then the customer does the work that used to be done by an employee. Or we have the replacement for travel agents, which are direct web portals to online hotel and transportation bookings. But this requires a sophisticated customer who knows how to use it. My wife has to make all the bookings for her mother's travel nowadays, because it's too complicated for Nana to handle. That work that used to be done by an travel agency employee is pushed on to the consumer.

So automation isn't going to replace doctors. It's going to make doctors more efficient, which might mean we need fewer doctors. Or take prostitution. The real substitute for prostitution isn't robot hookers, it's internet porn. Maybe that's not a one for one substitute, the substitute isn't as good as the real thing. But if the ersatz substitute is cheap enough and convenient enough, most people will stop demanding the expensive and inconvenient "real thing".
  #50  
Old 08-27-2019, 01:39 PM
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Why does it have to be one robot? And robots have had the uneven ground thing waxed for years now.


I don't think you're up to speed on current robot gripper tech. In addition to Voyager's electro-adhesive example, there's soft pneumatic tentacle grippers and my personal favourite, vacuum coffee ground balloon grippers
Those are good examples. It's just I've been hearing about this sort of technology being developed for years, and it never seems to progress to the level where it's viable on a mass production scale, which is what would be needed. I guess the whole point of technology is that it generally progresses, but it doesn't always progress in the way we expect.
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