In a recent McKinsey & Company report, "Where machines could replace humans--and where they can't (yet), researchers Michael Chui, James Manyika and Mehdi Miremadi analyze 19 different occupations to determine "which jobs will or won't be replaced by machines?" According to their findings (which were based on analysis of 2,000 work activities for more than 800 occupations), robots aren't likely to eliminate very many jobs over the next decade, but automation will have at least some impact on almost every job.
Those jobs most likely to be impacted by automation are those based on predictable physical work (e.g., assembly line welding and soldering, or packaging objects) as opposed to unpredictable physical work (e.g., construction or forestry). Also, as the researchers explain, the hardest jobs to automate are those "that involve managing and developing people, or that apply expertise to decision making, planning or creative work."
Of the jobs examined in the McKinsey report, activities near and dear to the material handling and logistics industry -- manufacturing and transportation & warehousing -- were seen as more likely to be affected by automation, which should come as no surprise given the repetitive nature of production and assembly work within manufacturing, as well as the prevalence of automated guided vehicles and other autonomous machines in distribution centers. Delivery drones and driverless trucks, though still largely in the research arena, could also have major impact on the industry as technology advances and regulations are set in place.
The following slideshow looks at the 10 occupations that the McKinsey researchers believe are the least likely to be automated, at least in the near future.
Wholesale trade, as opposed to warehousing or retail trade, is seen as having far less predictable physical work activities, and thus is seen as less automatable.
According to the McKinsey researchers, "the world of finance relies on professional expertise: stock traders and investment bankers live off their wits." On the other hand, mortgage brokers, for instance, spend nearly all of their time processing applications, indicating the potential that some of their daily tasks could someday be automated.
Although CGI has made it seem that live actors are sometimes superfluous to the latest Hollywood blockbusters, entertainers such as singers, musicians and athletes still remain largely immune to automation.
Location, location, location... not automation... are still the defining buzzwords for real estate professionals.
While some clerical office work is based largely on data collection (hence, more automatable), the role of administrative workers also involves much unpredictable physical work and the application of decision making and planning (i.e., less automatable).
The potential for automation of health professionals is low, particularly for those whose daily activities require expertise and direct contact with patients, exxplain the McKinsey researchers.
The IT specialist is frequently the most in-demand worker at any company using computers or high-tech equipment, and nobody yet has come up with a way to automate the only person who seems to understand how machines work.
While some might prefer robots to human attorneys in the courtroom (insert your favorite lawyer joke here), occupations like the legal profession that require extensive application interaction with clients as well as the application of specialized knowledge are far less likely to be automated than other types of occupations.
"Managing others" is a task that the McKinsey researchers identify as the hardest to automate, which rules out senior management roles from being automated to any great degree.
"The technical feasibility of automation is lowest in education, at least for now," note the McKinsey researchers, because "the essence of teaching is deep expertise and complex interactions with other people."
Making Educational Services #1 is inconsistent witht the success of online education. I supect the barrier is mainly the entrenched teachers unions.
K-12 has automated lesson plans and better content access than ever. The days of using real estate taxes to pay union pensions are numbered. Not fully automated, but radically changed. College will change when the feds stop subsidizing the past with endless student loans.
ETF's and mutual funds are displacing the retail finance folks (not mergers/acquisitions) so some of finance is vulnerable.
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