People used to think that only low-skilled jobs would fall to automation, but new research shows even those considered to be the top layers of the employment totem pole are in danger – CEOs, hedge fund managers and even emergency room surgeons.
The research published in a report from McKinsey & Company, shows while there is a connection between the skill level of a job and the chances it will be automated, there are many jobs that do not fit that formula. It cites the case of CEO’s jobs being more likely to be affected by robot automation than those of landscapers.
According to the report, 45 percent of tasks people are paid to perform can be automated by adapting current technologies, saving $2 trillion in annual wages. Once robots can understand natural languages and process this accurately, an additional 13 percent of U.S. job activities could be automated.
In the case of CEOs, robots could do activities such as analyzing data and reports, review status reports, and prepare staff assignments. The research shows about one-fifth of a CEO’s time is taken up with robot capable tasks.
The report shows that although many jobs will be lost to automation in the future, it will also free up time for more important tasks. The report cited mortgage-loan officers who would be able to spend more time advising clients and reviewing and processing loans, rather than filling out paperwork and doing physical inspections of properties. In the world of health care, emergency room doctors would be able to devote more time to serious and unusual cases, while robots do the time consuming triage and diagnosing of common and routine illnesses.
Although many low skilled workers will see “significant” parts of their daily routines done by robots, the research shows occupations such as home health aides, maintenance workers and landscapers are “actually pretty resilient to automation”.
The one thing the report does not predict is whether the automation of jobs will be faster than the creation of new jobs or if it will push more and more people to the unemployment office where robots will be processing their unemployment claims.