How to Survive the Robocalypse

In the debate about the impact of automation and robotics on the future of work, there is often a reductive push toward a Robocalypse, in which machines take all of the jobs. While a total displacement of humans is unlikely, a number of different types of jobs face an existential threat. This is typically low-skill, low-education, and low-income work that often includes significant manual labor and predictively repetitive tasks.

According to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, some sectors, such as manufacturing and transportation, have high technical potential for automation. But other sectors, such as education, management, professionals, information and health care, have much lower automation potential. In other words, Robocalypse is a much lower risk for educated workers.

This notion that higher-skilled professionals are safe is also supported by “Artificial Intelligence, Automation and the Economy,” a report from the Executive Office of the President that was released in December 2016. It highlighted that 83 percent of jobs that pay less than $20 per hour have a high probability of automation, while jobs that pay more than $40 per hour only have a 4 percent chance of automation. The report also showed that 44 percent of jobs that require less than a high school diploma are “highly automatable,” while no jobs that require graduate degrees are “highly automatable.” In addition, only 1 percent of jobs that require a B.A. are viewed as highly automatable. This graph shows the value of education in protecting yourself from being a victim of Robocalypse.

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What I would love to see is a robot that can not only diagnosis a problem on my car, but can fix it! Sees the need for a part, it just calls up the robot at Auto Parts Store and bam! A robot then delivers the part to my car robot!

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