Updated: Feb 3, 2019
As children, we dream about our career aspirations. Some might want to pursue acting, while others want to save the world as police officers or transport people across the vast sky as pilots. But in the near future, many jobs including the ones listed may become unavailable to human workers. Instead, they will likely be replaced by A.I, otherwise known as Artificial Intelligence. As a sophomore in high school, I have started thinking about careers I might want to pursue in the future. But with these decisions, I realized my generation is also facing an opponent that no generation before us has had to compete with. With the fast-paced development of technology, A.I. is starting to replace jobs and threaten many still in existence. Many cashiers in stores such as Walmart or Target have already been replaced by self-checkout machines. Bank tellers have been replaced by ATM machines. Taxi and Uber drivers will soon be replaced after the development of auto-driving cars are implemented.
So what is causing this to happen? Robots have always been seen as futuristic objects that work for us and make our lives easier. They are significantly better workers when it comes to speed, productivity, and accuracy. In addition, A.I. machines are consistent and have a much lower chance of making mistakes, such as giving back the wrong amount of change at the self-checkout area. They are cheap sources of labor and don’t need to be paid , or have sick or vacation days. Machines are a constant source of income that rarely ever need a break. Most importantly, A.I. can work at a faster rate, producing higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. It seems impossible to compete with these robots that can solve rubix cubes in 0.3 seconds, or beat the best chess player in the world. People have already started predicting what jobs will likely be replaced, many of which include journalists, lawyers, uber drivers, and even some surgeons. Yes, even surgeons. According to the New York Times article, “Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?,” robots are already assisting in surgeries that remove cancerous tissue. How would you feel if a robot was performing life-threatening surgery on you?
So which careers will be safest from the A.I. apocalypse? If professions that require repetitive, boring, and/or analytical work are in the most danger of being replaced, then those that require more creativity and emotional intelligence, such as musicians or psychologists, are expected to have the lowest chances of being automated. However, many of these professions don’t have incomes as high as those jobs which are being replaced. For example, surgeons generally have higher salaries than musicians, but have a higher chance of being automated. This poses another large choice: will we choose jobs that have a higher automation risk but also a higher salary, or jobs that have a lower automation risk but a lower salary? Our generation’s future career options is filled with questions and doubts.
Ironically, as much of a threat that A.I. may seem to pose, it may just as likely open up countless possibilities and opportunities in the future. Despite all these worries, the development of A.I. will create many new job opportunities, especially in the computer science and engineering field. There will be an increase in demand for engineers who are capable of repairing malfunctioning robots and machines. The future is filled with countless uncertainties, and we need to weigh our options and choose the right path for generations to come.