Robots Could Replace Half Of Workforce In 20 Years

by Caitlin Mahon

A study out of Oxford University has produced some alarming data: Nearly half of America's current workforce could be put out of work, thanks to the rise of computers and mobile robots, within the next decade or two It's almost like The Jetsons, except it's more likely that Rosie, the robot maid, would do George Jetson's job instead of George himself. It's not just a few hundred occupations that would be impacted, either. We're talking about 700 in total.

The study, by researchers Michael Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey, indicates that 47 percent of the total workforce is classified in a "high risk" category for becoming automated.

Loan Officers hit the top of the charts, with a 98 percent "probability of automation," followed by receptionists and information clerks (96 percent,) paralegals and legal assistants (94 percent,) and retail salespeople (92 percent.) The list follows with taxi drivers, security guards, cooks, bartenders, and even computer programmers. Ironic, right?

Information-technology has already left a huge mark on employment around the world. We already have computers and robots that can complete step-by-step tasks, once completed and completely understood by a human being. In a single generation, an assortment of jobs once occupied by middle-class earners were eliminated.

Of course, there is a silver lining. If you're educated and skilled, you're not likely to become obsolete in the next 20 years. The jobs that would be protected include those requiring creative thinking, the need for human manual dexterity — like surgeons; time to apply to medical school — and social intelligence.

According to the study, occupations such as emergency management directors, mental health and substance abuse social workers, recreational therapists, mechanics, dietitians, and choreographers are among the occupations that are least likely to become automated.