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What Jobs Are in Danger of Being Obsolete?

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Before retiring, Jack worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.

a robot picking up a tray of coffees

a robot picking up a tray of coffees

In 2017, I read that a new machine was invented to make dumplings. This is a professional model that will help some restaurants beat the competition. It turns out making dumplings is something of a lost art.

Restaurant owners cannot find enough good workers to make dumplings. This got me thinking: What other jobs or professions will be obsolete due to automation and robotics?

If a machine can replace a whole workforce, what will the people do? Can they be re-trained for some other profession?

If a machine can replace a whole workforce, what will the people do? Can they be re-trained for some other profession?

Machines Could Replace Whole Workplace Sectors

Robotics and automation have been around for a long time. Many assembly lines are filled with these machines which are very good at making repetitive motions and never make a mistake. The new artificial intelligence software has added a new level of sophistication; machines can perform a complete function that used to be performed by a human being. This is a game-changer. This means some group's employment is in jeopardy.

If a machine can replace a whole workforce, what will the people do? Can they be re-trained for some other profession? These have economic implications as well as social and psychological impacts.

We probably all seen the movie Robocop, where a future city decided to replace their police force with a robot. These machines are supposed to be better and programmed to uphold the law while protecting the innocent and arrest the criminal elements.

What about the human element? There are many jobs that are not easily programmed. It depends on human interaction. The worker has to be able to interact with customers of all sorts and be able to adapt on the fly to various situations that may arise.

Another recent development is in retail stores where they are replacing checkout personnel with self-scanning kiosks. Since all the items are barcoded, it is just as easy for the customer to scan his own items and pay with credit cards all without a cashier.

It is obvious that there can be some savings when a job can be eliminated. There will be one less payroll, and benefits and employee issues to deal with. A machine will work around the clock and never complain or go on strike.

Retailers are replacing cashiers with self-scanning kiosks.

Retailers are replacing cashiers with self-scanning kiosks.

What Jobs Are Candidates for Replacement?

  • Cashiers at retail stores: replaced by a self-scanning kiosk
  • Toll collectors: replaced by EZ-Pass
  • Sweepers: replaced by iRobot vacuums
  • Bank tellers: replaced by ATM machines
  • Delivery people: replaced by drones
  • Garbage collector: replaced by trucks with automated lifts
  • baker: replaced by bread-maker machine

Some Jobs at Risk

Recent advances in technology have put additional pressure on the human job market. Here are a few innovations that could be game-changers.

  • self-driving trucks
  • self-driving cars
  • sexbots
  • robotic doctors
  • robotic pilots

Some Jobs Are Safe

Fortunately for us humans, there are still plenty of jobs that only humans can perform. These involve creativity and artistic input such as writer, cartoonist, painter, musician, artist, photographer, programmer, or chef.

What do these professions have in common? They require creativity that cannot be easily programmed. They also interact with people and respond to requests.

Oddly enough, customer service is another area where a human is better. People still like to interact with other people. When you call up to file a complaint or resolve an issue, you want to talk to a person who may have some sympathy for your troubles.

In sports, a personal trainer or coach is also very hard to replace. He or she has a personal relationship with the client. Even if a robot could perform all the functions, the person may still prefer another person to talk or share.


Artificial Intelligence is here. We are warned that it will take over the world, including our jobs. I am a skeptic. These projections are ususally too optimistic. The humans have one advantage. They can adapt to any and all situations. Also, more importantly, people needs people.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Jack Lee


Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on September 30, 2017:

Not all families are good at home care, it depends upon the family... if there is one.

Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on September 29, 2017:

The best home care is provided by family members.

Tinyrain on September 28, 2017:

The tender caring touch or voice of a professional nurse that has the passion to provide care, I dont see that profession going anywhere anytime soon, plus no one wants to do this job any more

Tamara Moore on September 12, 2017:

Me, too, and it sort of scares me. This is an exceptional article, BTW.

Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on September 12, 2017:

No problem... all comments are welcome.

Personally, I am very suspicious of any jobs being replaced by machines.

Tamara Moore on September 12, 2017:

Oops, I am sorry. I saw this on the Feed, and mistakenly thought it was Jay's post due to his comment I saw.

Tamara Moore on September 12, 2017:

I am so thankful for Peace Officers. We need all of them we can get! Thank you, Jay, for being a Peace Officer. Peace comes from ones availability within their God-Given heart, thus, they cannot be replaced by robots. Never!

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on September 12, 2017:

Wait a minute, I am a retired Peace Officer. You cannot replace me with a robot. Robots are for repetitive or hazardous work. The work of a Peace Officer is largely based on judgment and diplomacy. If the situation gets really hazardous, the officer could call for backup and have a remote control robot take over.

I do not think a robot could take the place of a doctor, but only assist.

AI cars, trucks and cabs, I am in favor of... if it can be done safely. There has to be a secondary system in the vehicle to avoid accidents such as radar.

Jack Lee (author) from Yorktown NY on September 11, 2017:

breakfastpop, agreed. The key to making good dumplings is making the stuffing...I have bought some store made frozen dumplings...and somehow, they are just not as good.

breakfastpop on September 11, 2017:

When I read that there is a shortage of expert dumpling makers, my heart skipped a beat. I adore dumplings, and I want human talented hands making them!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 11, 2017:

Yes, technology seems to be taking over these days and making a lot of peoples jobs obsolete. It's a shame, but that's the world we live in now I'm afraid.

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