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5 Unlikely Careers that might be made obsolete by Machines

5 Unlikely Careers that might be made obsolete by Machines

In mid-2016, smartphone manufacturer Foxconn replaced about 60,000 workers on the factory floor with semi-independent robots. Foxconn, one of the major suppliers with Samsung and Apple, continued the trend among Chinese manufacturing companies of replacing humans with robots.

In fact, manufacturing companies in Guangdong have invested over $520 million in robots since 2014, a clear indicator of the direction the industry is taking.

Locally, robots have become increasingly popular in construction sites and among emergency and law enforcement agencies. They’ve been used to defuse bombs, help with search and rescue, and many other functions that put humans at risk.

Away from the heavy-duty use cases robots and automation, in general, are moving closer to home. They are now answering phones, prescribing medicine, and doing many other tasks that were usually reserved for humans.

Check out these five regular careers that might soon be replaced by robots.

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1. Babysitters

    In 2014, the average babysitter was paid about $500 per week which is a bit on the higher side for the average American family. Add that to the number of unknowns, including safety concerns and finding the right sitter for your children, and you may just find yourself going for a robotic sitter.

    Hollywood has taught us that robots can be entertaining and fun, which is why companies like Aeon Co. introduced robots in most of their stores to keep kids entertained while their parents were busy shopping.

    Hello Kitty and PaPeRo are examples of fully-functional robots that are capable of telling jokes and tracking kids. Similar technology may replace humans as babysitters in the future.

    2. Fast food workers

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      McDonald’s recently rolled out their “Create Your Taste” kiosks that let customers build their burgers and even make full-menu orders from stand-alone touchscreen kiosks. These customized kiosk systems have become a major hit in the fast-food industry, with companies such as Panera Bread and Wendy’s looking to supplement their labor force with these kiosks.

      Customized kiosks in fast food restaurants greatly improve order accuracy, convenience, and do away with the long, winding queues. With the ever-increasing costs of labor, restaurant automation might just see robots edge humans from the job market.

      3. Reporters

        If you often catch up on sports news via online news websites, chances are you have read one or two articles created by an intelligent machine. Narrative Science uses a special artificial intelligence application to generate readable stories using data from sports events around the country.

        The Big Ten Network, a subsidiary of Fox Cable, uses the application to generate news stories touching on softball and baseball events. They simply email the game data from each game to Narrative Science who then feed the scores into the AI program that generates a news story within minutes – thus replacing your everyday sportswriter and news reporter.

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        4. Pharmacists

          Your prescription order might soon be serviced by a robot, that is if the automation efforts by the UCSF Medical Center are replicated across the medical field. The robotics-controlled pharmaceutical systems at two UCSF hospitals have jointly dispensed over 350,000 prescriptions without error.

          The pharmacy system receives the orders from pharmacists and dispensing physicians then sends the information to robots that pick medications from the shelf, package, label, and dispense the medications. Apart from regular pills, the system is also capable of filling IV syringes and compounding chemotherapy preparations – all with little to no human involvement.

          5. Drivers

            This one has been in the works for quite some time. Ever since Google and Tesla began advanced experiments with driverless cars, automakers have been shifting focus away from cars with human-supervised driving. Major auto companies like Ford, Toyota, Volvo, BMW, and Nissan have already announced plans to introduce semi or fully autonomous cars by around 2018.

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            Uber has even started experimenting with driverless cab services, which will be a major game changer when it finally becomes a standard service.

            Bottom Line

            Machines and autonomous technology will always be a part of society. The automation debate is currently split into two sides: one holding the view that automation will spur innovation in the labor sector with the other prophesying complete doom for the human workforce.

            Either way, the labor industry is poised for drastic transformation over the next few years. So for now, embrace the robots and savor the smoother, easier world of automation.

            Image Credits:

            Baby boy caucasian child family, Mcdonalds redaktionel chain, Reporter camera journalist media, Thermometer headache pain pills, Driver car traffic man hurry Via Pixabay

            Featured photo credit: Stocksnap.io via stocksnap.io

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            Vikas Agrawal

            Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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            Published on June 30, 2020

            What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

            What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

            Many conversations are being held nowadays regarding unconscious bias, but what does it really mean and how can it affect your life and the people around you? With many types of biases, it can get quite confusing. In this article, we’ll touch on cognitive bias, and then zero in on unconscious bias. Both types of biases have an immediate impact on your life because they relate to how you and others think about yourself and other people.

            If you want to protect your relationships and make good decisions about other people, you need to know what these biases mean[1]. Once we have clarity about that, we can explore in more depth unconscious bias and how to address it[2].

            Cognitive Bias

            Let’s start with cognitive bias[3], a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals[4].

            These mental blind spots impact all areas of our life, from health to relationships and even shopping, as a study recently revealed[5]. In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want.

            Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood. Ironically, cognitive biases — such as the optimism bias and overconfidence effect — more often lead to positive moods. Of course, the consequence of falling into cognitive biases, once discovered, usually leaves us in a bad mood due to the disastrous results of these dangerous judgment errors.

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            Unconscious Bias

            Unconscious bias is different from cognitive bias. Also known as implicit bias, it refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on[6]. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

            Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example, most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

            Unconscious Bias and Discriminatory Behavior

            Organizations often bring me in as a speaker on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior. When I share in speeches that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people, some participants (usually white) occasionally try to defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to the internal characteristics of black people (implying that it is deserved), and not to the external context of police behavior.

            In reality – as I point out in my response to these folks – research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one[7].

            At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black one. In other words, statistics show that the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to the prejudice of the police officers, at least to a large extent[8].

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            However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it indeed is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse[9].

            After becoming aware that unconscious bias does exist, the next step would be learning how to recognize it in order to reduce it. I’ve outlined three crucial points to keep in mind below while further exploring the unconscious prejudice discussed above.

            How to Reduce Unconscious Bias

            Remember these three important points if you want to work on reducing your unconscious bias.

            1. Unconscious Bias is a Systemic Issue

            When we understand that unconscious bias is ultimately a systemic issue, we understand that internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.

            Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people, perceiving them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many — not all — black police officers helps show that such prejudices come – at least to a significant extent – from internal cultures within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes present before someone joins a police department.

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            Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers.

            In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that unconscious bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed[10].

            2. There Is No Shame in Unconscious Bias

            Another crucial thing that needs to be highlighted is that there is no shame or blame in unconscious bias as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences, helping them hear and accept the issue.

            Unconscious bias is prevalent and often doesn’t match our conscious values. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs and prejudices stemming from our tendency to categorize people into social groups. This developed naturally as a way for our ancestors to quickly size up a possible threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate well in modern life.

            3. It Takes a Sustained Effort to Prevent and Protect Against Unconscious Bias

            After being presented with additional statistics and discussion of unconscious bias, the issue is generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for their gut reactions to believe that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it; in turn, they are highly reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts and energy on protecting black Americans from police violence due to the structural challenges facing these groups.

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            The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions, so they reject this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research[11].

            Conclusion

            The examples and points raised illustrate broader patterns you need to follow to recognize unconscious bias. Only by doing so will you be able to determine if, and what type of, intervention is needed to address it.

            Unfortunately, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices when we simply follow our intuitions. Unconscious biases are systemic and need to be addressed in order to make the best decisions[12].

            We need to learn about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias. Then, you need to develop the right mental habits to help you make the best choices[13]. A one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias, so get started now.

            More Tips on Overcoming Unconscious Bias

            Featured photo credit: M.T ElGassier via unsplash.com

            Reference

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