The accelerating rise of automation: 5 top jobs that will be replaced by AI

jobs that will be replaced by ai
Artificial intelligence has has a positive impact and enriched people's lives. Source: Peter Parks/AFP

It sounds scary to read the many news reports on jobs that will be replaced by AI.

In May, International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. CEO announced it expects to pause hiring for roles that could be done by AI in the coming years.

This would impact back-office, non-customer-facing functions, like human resources, according to IBM CEO Arvind Krishna.

“I could easily see 30% of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period,” he told Bloomberg.

UK’s telecommunication giant BT also announced it would be cutting 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

“Whenever you get new technologies you can get big changes,” chief executive Philip Jansen told the BBC.

“Generative AI” tools such as ChatGPT “gives us confidence we can go even further”.

But what exactly does it mean to say that, i.e. “go even further” or that jobs could be affected by AI?

“It depends,” David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The New York Times.

“Affected could mean made better, made worse, disappeared, doubled.”

Artificial intelligence is big and getting bigger

AI is the most important technological advance in decades, wrote Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a blog post in March. He was referring to chatbots such as ChatGPT

“It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other,” he wrote.

CEO of Google Inc Sundar Pichai, agrees. It is more profound than fire or electricity, he says.

While its impact seems huge, the studies proclaiming hundreds of thousands of jobs that will be replaced by AI may have been overblown.

While ChatGPT can write essays, solve math problems, explain complex concepts, take SAT exams and write music, this does not mean it can take over entire occupations.

In 2013, Oxford researchers, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, found that 47% all jobs in the US were “at risk” of automation “over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two.”

To arrive at the 47% figure, they had asked experts to rate how likely entire occupations can be automated.

Three years later, researchers at the ZEW Center for European Economic Research, based in Mannheim, Germany, assessed how many tasks could be automated.

And their study found only 9% of occupations across 21 countries could be automated.

“People like numbers,” Melanie Arntz, the lead author of the ZEW paper, told The New York Times.

“People always think that the number must be somehow solid, you know, because it’s a number. But numbers can really be very misleading.”

jobs that will be replaced by ai

Robotics, machinery and artificial intelligence has made huge advancements in the last decade. Source: Thomas Coex/AFP

What are the jobs that will be replaced by AI?

The short answer is it’s hard to place an exact figure on how many jobs that will be replaced by AI and in how many years.

There are many variables at hand that researchers have found hard to predict, such as:

  • How future companies and societies value your skills will change with time.
  • There could be new tools to perform more tasks, and in turn, how these new tools are designed, regulated and used.
  • History has shown us that advances in technology affect how much you get paid and how your salary compares with your neighbours, not make jobs redundant

For example, if a political revolution happened, new laws could make CEOs reduce their pay to be equal to everyone else in the company — or grow it astronomically higher still.

And if that world has ethics prized over everything else, a new robot that performs surgery better will still not be able to replace human doctors.

Plus, we can’t imagine the full details of what the future will be like, the full details of what tech will be built and the full details of what jobs will be available then.

Researchers themselves, including the authors of the seminal 2017 McKinsey report that suggest about half of work could be automated, admit their predictions are just “hopefully directionally correct” predictions.

While there’s no definitive date and figure for all jobs, things are clearer when looking at specific occupations.

The following jobs that will be replaced by AI are chosen because they currently have many tasks that can be easily automated:

jobs that will be replaced by ai

People in the legal profession could be impacted by artificial intelligence. Source: Valery Hache/AFP

1. Law

There are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the US today, and many believe that number’s not likely going to change much soon.

The law-making process is a human process, says Professor Michael Livermore, a scholar from the University of Virginia School of Law.

“A computer probably will be able to write something like a legal opinion — maybe in 10 years. But it cannot engage in a political discourse about it.”

However, other professions in this industry could be at risk.

The entire sector is made up of different roles; legal assistants, court clerks, junior associates, and more.

What took paralegals and junior associates days to do was now achievable through applications and platforms.

The collection, analysing and review of data for a case could now take less than half a day to complete.

jobs that will be replaced by ai

People in the finance sector could be working in jobs that will be replaced by AI. Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

2. Finance

Is there evidence to state that this is one of the jobs that will be replaced by AI?

The answer is an overwhelming yes, according to a survey done by Bloomberg Professional and Retail Investors.

In the survey, just under half of the respondents said they would buy stocks that have exposure to generative AI, which can create things like text or imagery from single prompts.

Other experts agree it could very well upturn jobs even on Wall Street.

Some jobs will be in jeopardy, says Pengcheng Shi, PhD Programme Director at the Rochester Institute of Technology:

“At an investment bank, people are hired out of college and spend two, three years to work like robots and do Excel modelling; you can get AI to do that.”

jobs that will be replaced by ai

Teachers and trainers could be jobs that will be replaced by AI. Source: Ethan Miller/ Getty Images/AFP

3. Education

Whether we’ve used ChatGPT once or never before, we’ve all heard of it on the news, social media and the likes.

This new software caused an uproar in the education sector when students began using it in classrooms and to complete projects.

Some of the things ChatGPT can do include:

  • Coming up with ideas and brainstorm
  • Doing personalised recommendations
  • Coming up with original poems, short stories and more
  • Debugging codes

But can it teach children in school how to read and write, or how to complete a complicated math problem?

Most likely. And it could even be more effective than human teachers.

“Although it has bugs and inaccuracies in terms of knowledge, this can be easily improved,” said Shi. “Basically, you just need to train the ChatGPT.”

jobs that will be replaced by ai

Customer service is one of the top jobs that will be replaced by AI in the future. Source: Rob Elliott/AFP

4. Customer service

If you’ve taken the time to notice, there’s hardly ever another person on the line when you call an organisation or business.

From retail to telecommunication to healthcare, you are always directed to a chatbot first.

You’d also have noticed then once an enquiry becomes too hard or complex, it is then that a person steps in.

This is not expected to last for very long.

Experts believe a complete future with artificial intelligence and robotics is fast approaching. This means people within customer service can be in jobs that will be replaced by AI.

A survey conducted by Gartner predicted that by 2027, chatbots will become the main channel for about a quarter of all organisations.

Chatbots and virtual customer assistants have evolved over the past decade to become a critical technology component, says Uma Challa, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner.

And, as they become smarter in having conversations with customers, it is more likely they can handle more queries, and reduce costs and workloads subsequently.

jobs that will be replaced by ai

With tools like DALL-E, graphic designers are among the jobs that will be replaced by AI. Source: Jean Ayissi/AFP

5. Graphic design

The last of the jobs that will be replaced by AI is from the creative sector.

One might argue that no robot, machine, or avatar could ever surpass the creativity of a human being.

However, AI is fast catching up in a contest of opportunities and innovation across the board.

Late last year, in a Harvard Business Review report, professors noted that the DALL-E tool could generate tailored images from user-generated prompts on command.

Want a sketch of your cat licking ice cream or a charcoal drawing of the Eiffel Tower? You’ve got it.

DALL-E was launched in 2021 by ChatGPT developers, OpenAI. And it was a success.

Up to September last year, more than 1.5 million users were optimising this software, creating over two million images a day.

Artists, creative directors and authors at big brands the likes of Stitch Fix, Nestlé and Heinz were some of them.