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Will Robots Take Your Job?

A librarian? Watch out. A substance abuse counselor? You’re safe.

Paralegals and food service workers: the robots are coming.

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So suggests this interactive visualization by NPR. The bare-bones graphic lets you select a profession, from tellers and lawyers to psychologists and authors, to determine who is most at risk of losing their jobs in the coming robot revolution. From there, it spits out a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more likely the job will be replaced by a robot. Helpful bar charts reveal how the position compares with other professions.

The data comes from researchers at Oxford University, who compared 702 occupations and rated them on how easily the skills they require could be automated. For example, how much does a job hinge on helping other people? How often do workers need to come up with clever solutions to problems? Based on these assessments, the researchers predicted what chance professions have of being turned over to the machines.

See the full list of jobs here

Some of these predictions are intuitive: mental health care workers like substance abuse counselors have almost no chance of being replaced by robots. Their jobs require that they negotiate, excel interpersonally, and solve complex problems–all things that robots struggle to do. Jobs that are highly regimented and require few interpersonal skills, like those in food service and manufacturing, are much more at risk. According to the researchers, restaurant cooks have a 96.3% chance of being automated out of existence. For factory workers who pack goods, that figure is a whopping 98%. Even highly skilled professionals like librarians and paralegals have a 64% and 94.5% chance of automation, respectively.

The numbers seem pretty bleak (even the cheerful dancing robot on NPR.com doesn’t cheer us up much). But it’s difficult to know what’s actually going to happen. The researchers admit that their predictions may not be accurate–they’re only predictions, after all. But just to be safe, you might want to rethink that library science degree.

[via NPR]

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About the author

I'm a writer living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Interests include social justice, cats, and the future.

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