An Oxford University study found that up to half of US jobs are at risk of becoming computerized in the next 20 years. Industries with greatest impact include transportation, administrative support, and, perhaps surprisingly, service.
Using US-based datasets, Oxford University researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne examined over 700 occupations to determine the likelihood of their being taken over by computers in the next 20 years. They looked at the tasks done in each job type, the skills required, and the obstacles that prevented their being computerized. The results showed that up to half of all jobs could be at some risk of computerization in the future. Sectors listed as “high risk” included transportation, office/administrative support, and, despite recent growth, service. Recreational therapists and telemarketers had the lowest and highest risk, respectively, of losing their jobs to computers.
What’s the Big Idea?
The speed with which technology is advancing means that workers will be looking over their shoulders like never before. In their paper, Frey and Osborne note that as more low-income, low-skilled occupations are replaced by computers, workers will need to move to jobs “that require creative and social intelligence.” These include “generalist” occupations such as business and finance as well as more specialized professions like engineering. However, lest STEM majors get too smug, Frey and Osbourne say that computers could take their jobs too in the long term.