The debate about whether machines will eliminate the need for human employment is no longer just academics.
Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by either smart software or robots, while a study from Oxford University has suggested that 35% of existing UK jobs are at risk of automation in the next 20 years.
Let’s have a look at some of the jobs that are already being done by machines.
Drivers have a 97.8% chance of being automated. Drivers and transporters won’t be needed for much longer.
Uber, along with most of the major car manufacturers and Google, is already looking beyond an opposing service to one that gets rid of the driver altogether.
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick puts it the service would be a whole lot cheaper if you weren’t “paying for that other dude in the car”.
In China, humans are already building robots that will ultimately take their jobs. The first robot-only factory is being built in China’s Dongguan factory city.
The factory, owned by Sehnzhen Evenwin Precision Technology, aims to reduce the current workforce of 1,800 by 90%, according to Chen Zingui, chairman of the board.
But Chinese ambitions for a robot workforce go much further.
Companies such as “Narrative Science” offer software such as “Quill” that is able to take data and turn it into something understandable.
Quill writes company reports ahead of earnings announcements and Narrative Science claims this means it can now offer this sort of report for thousands of companies rather than just the handful that could be written up by a human journalist.
This didn’t mean that 90% of journalist jobs would go.
A robot may not yet have a good bedside manner but it is pretty good at wading through huge reams of data to find possible treatments for diseases.
Robots have for years been helping doctors perform surgery, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
Speed is a crucial factor in the success of such operations and the robots are able to sew blood vessels connecting donor kidneys far more quickly than humans.
For the moment, robot and man work side-by-side in medicine but that may not always be the case.
If the idea of software flying you to your next tropical vacation scares you, you’ve got a few years yet to get used to the idea. But the technology is on its way. In 2013, British Aerospace Jetstream flew a pilotless passenger jet through civilian airspace for 800 km, controlled by an algorithm that is much more than an auto-pilot.