5 courses to graduate in so robots won't steal your job
Less than 30 percent of a registered nurse’s activities could be automated. Source: Shutterstock

Forget majoring in tech, it’s the liberal arts graduate who will succeed in the future.

Jobs that rely on technical skills are more at risk of being taken over by robots than those that call for personal judgement, critical thinking and creativity, according to self-made billionaire Mark Cuban.

Speaking at a South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference earlier this year, the investor explained how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause many jobs, especially those relying on technical tasks, to be automated, leaving human workers redundant.

“Knowing how to critically think and assess them from a global perspective, I think, is going to be more valuable than what we see as exciting careers today, which might be programming or CPA or those types of things,” Cuban said, as reported by CNBC.

Cuban’s views reflect the findings in consultancy firm McKinsey’s report on the potential effects of AI in the workplace earlier this year, which studied 2,000-plus work activities for more than 800 occupations.

“The hardest activities to automate with currently available technologies are those that involve managing and developing people (nine percent automation potential) or that apply expertise decision-making, planning, or creative work (18 percent),” the report said.

Here are five notable courses Cuban and McKinsey’s report predict will be among the most robot-resistant:



While there are new technologies that can help nurses do their work more efficiently, it is unlikely robots will take over their jobs completely anytime soon. McKinsey’s report estimates less than 30 percent of a registered nurse’s activities could be automated.

Instead, what is more likely to happen is that more hospitals will use robots to fetch medication and equipment, as well as handle medical waste so nurses can devote more time to caring for patients. Apart from nursing, other jobs that require human empathy are the jobs of therapists and psychologists, which are also among the least likely to be automated.


Dental practitioners are among the least likely to be replaced by robots, according to a 2015 study by researchers at Oxford University and Deloitte on the risk of computerisation of current jobs in the next 20 years. This mirrors McKinsey’s report that found only 13 percent of a dental hygienist activities can be automated. This shows the more your daily work requires expertise and direct contact with patients, the less likely your job in healthcare could be substituted by AI.


“Of all the sectors we have examined, the technical feasibility of automation is lowest in education, at least for now,” the McKinsey report reads.

While there are more digital teaching tools and online courses, the “essence of teaching” remains deep expertise and complex human interactions – features an AI is incapable of in the near future.


Although philosophy, as well as other majors associated with a liberal arts degree have among the worst job prospects now, they will be more valuable in future, Cuban, an Indiana University alum says.

When asked about what skills and major will dominate in the future labour market in an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year, Cuban said: “No finance. That’s the easiest thing – you just take the data have it spit out whatever you need. I think there’s going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering, because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data. And so having someone who is more of a free thinker.”


Both Cuban and Google exec Jonathan Rosenberg agree the liberal arts degree will become more valuable in future.

And they’ve got a point. According to the Oxford-Deloitte study, there is only a four percent likelihood of a social worker’s activities being automated. Unique human strengths such as social interaction and empathy will be what sets us apart and make us better than robots, which simply do not have such data to do so.

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