The robot threat to our jobs

The Associated Press recently revealed that it would be automating its business reporting through a series of algorithms that compose 150- to 300-word stories in lieu of actual humans. Powered by technology developed by a company called Automated Insights, these algorithms pull data from readily available statistics and are already used by the New York Times for its wedding announcements and by Forbes for its earning reports previews.

According to Mashable, the technology resulted in 300 million automated stories last year, a number that’s higher than that produced by all the major media companies combined. And in 2014, they’re setting the bar even higher by aiming to produce over a billion stories.  

And while the media conglomerates argue that outsourcing the work to robots frees up their journalists’ time to focus on original or creative projects, there is a growing sense that journalists are under some type of robot attack. This reality was most clearly evidenced recently when Japan unveiled the world’s first robotic news reader. The most unsettling thing about this innovation isn’t the human-like appearance or the flawless language skills, but rather that it could potentially bring an end to news bloopers. We shudder to think what would become of the world without a well-placed F-bomb or an awkward joke.    


And journalists and news readers aren’t the only workers currently threatened by the rise of the machines. Here are a few examples of other workers that find themselves on the endangered jobs list:

Bank tellers: before 1960, people would’ve sniggered at the idea that unguarded boxes would be used to dispense money throughout the city. But after the invention of the nifty ATM machines, the number of people required to sit behind the bank counters started to decrease quite rapidly. And as online banking becomes more popular, the remaining bank tellers once again find themselves at the mercy of the robot revolution.  


Doctors: recent developments in the field of robotic surgery have led to many surgical procedures either being automated or assisted by machines—meaning that even doctors find their job security threatened by robots these days.

Pilots: The proliferation of drones has made it increasingly common for pilotless planes to take to the skies. And while the use of these sophisticated contraptions is still largely restricted to military operations, Google has started experimenting with pilotless passenger planes.            

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