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As artificial intelligence continues to develop, so to do the roles it can play in society. With automation very much in the spotlight among recruiters, businesses and employees alike, many are now asking themselves “is my current role safe?”.
It’s such a pertinent question that there’s even a website dedicated to spelling out to worried colleagues whether they should start retraining or looking for a new career. The aptly-named “Will Robots Take My Job?” is frightening viewing for the less optimistic among us.
But where exactly are the first workplace casualties of AI going to be?
Chances are you’re already receiving automated calls on behalf of various vendors of products and services ranging from financial instruments to injury lawyers. The implementation of AI in the telemarketing sector is expected to see the industry decline as much as 3% by 2024. There’s a reason why AI has been adopted so early on by telemarketing companies – unlike front-facing sales roles, phone marketers don’t really need high levels of social intelligence to be a success. With low conversion rates (less than 10% in most instances), companies have realised that it’s more cost-effective to automate their telemarketing opportunities.
The automation of bookkeeping continues to march on at a lightning-quick pace. Software like FreshBooks, QuickBooks and even Microsoft Office each offer affordable alternatives to a full-time bookkeeper. Experts suggest that the bookkeeping industry will decline by as much as 8% in the next five years, due in part to the increase mobile functionality of apps which allow for swift scanning of receipts and invoices.
This may seem controversial, given that friendly reception staff can make prospective clients feel welcome upon arrival at face-to-face meetings. However, AI phone systems and automated schedule can easily replace a lot of the roles performed by a traditional reception worker – particularly at smaller companies which don’t make use of office-wide phone systems.
The self-driving car continues to astound us, and it’s only a matter of time before delivery services are reliant on them (as well as drones, perhaps). It makes perfect sense – in theory, a self-driving AI vehicle won’t turn up late, get lost or take sick days. In practice, Satellite Navigation issues and regular vehicle maintenance are likely to cause problems, but improvements in self-diagnostics mean that it’s surely only a matter of time before the self-driving courier is a mainstay on our roads.
Free proof-reading software is everywhere these days. From Microsoft Word’s spelling/grammar check to the Hemingway readability app, there are lots of tools out there to help correct niggling writing errors.
6. Retail sales
In times gone by, it was difficult not to enter retail premises without encountering heavy assistance (or the “hard sell”) by eager staff. However, modern companies are taking a much more democratic approach to the retail experience. Most organisations have begun to recognise that today’s buyers are much more internet-savvy and are therefore likely to do their own research prior to entering a store to see something “in the flesh”. With an increase in self-service checkouts, many of the tasks performed by retail sales staff are fast becoming obsolete.
If you’re concerned about your job being taken by artificial intelligence, either now or in the next few years, it might be a good idea to consider increasing your professional development. This could involve undertaking a course in a creative skill such as graphic design, leadership or public speaking. By increasing your skills, you’ll make transitioning into another role much easier in the event of automation rendering your job obsolete.
Mark Gray is a freelance graphic artist and content writer from Berkshire, UK. He enjoys travelling, attending tech conferences, surfing, and gaming. He is also a newbie in the small business world but has big dreams in store for him.