The future — and the robot takeover that comes with it — is already here. We ask robots to give
us directions, order pizza and clean our carpets — but the workplace is where they really shine.
According to research from the career site Zippia, America is home to 310,700 industrial robots,
with more than 40,000 new ones joining the labor force every year. A vast majority — more than
80% — are in manufacturing, a sector projected to lose 20 million jobs to robots by 2030. But assembly lines aren’t the only place where robots can work faster, cheaper and more
efficiently than humans — and employees across the economy are on notice.
Customer service platform Tidio used Reddit and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to poll 1,225
people about their feelings on automation — particularly about the jobs that respondents
thought were most threatened by the robot revolution.
Here’s a look at the jobs that are on the automated chopping block.
- Average salary: $29,010
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 17%
It’s easy for human restaurant servers to be overworked and to get overwhelmed, which leads to mistakes. This can make for an unpleasant and inefficient dining experience for all involved. Robot waiters, apps, POS kiosks and other technology, on the other hand, always keep their cool — and they have already begun their takeover of the restaurant industry.
In 2022, the Washington Post reported that fast-food companies, in particular, had expanded
their use of automation to compensate for the labor crunch that made good food-service help so
hard to find last year.
- Average salary: $30,340
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 19%
Liker servers, bartenders enjoy flexible hours and cash tips. Although tending bar requires more experience than waiting tables, the position also demands the ability to multitask, stay cool under pressure and treat people with patience even when they don’t deserve it — all top robot qualities.
In 2022, CNBC reported on the debut of BRILLO, a robot bartender that can make small talk
while practicing precision mixology.
- Average salary: $31,860
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 21%
From hospitals and homes to offices and restaurants, cleaning crews keep businesses and
residences safe and sanitary. In the post-pandemic era, that kind of work has become more
important — and more demanding and dangerous. Robots don’t catch viruses and they don’t
mind the hard, dirty work that this job entails.
- Average salary: $45,140
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 23%
Bookkeepers have been relying on sophisticated software to make their work easier and more
accurate for years — but pretty soon, the software will leave its human masters behind. Already,
a program called Botkeeper debuted as the world’s first fully automated bookkeeping platform
for accounting firms.
Customer Service Representative
- Average salary: $39,070
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 24%
Humans have been grumbling their way through automated customer service phone systems for years, but the future of customer service is shaping up to be much more sophisticated than press 1 for this and press 2 for that. According to Technology Review, artificial intelligence and chatbots are already making customers forget that they’re not talking to an actual person.
- Average salary: $33,020
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 26%
Anyone who has seen the inside of an Amazon fulfillment center knows that stocking and sorting robots operate with a level of speed, precision and skill that no human could ever hope to match.
Warehouses aren’t supermarkets and retail stores, but the same technology is already on its way to muscling out the traditional stocker.
- Average salary: $58,400
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 42%
Anyone with an internet connection can use impressively accurate translation tools — both
written and spoken — for free with Google Translate. There is still a niche for human translators,
particularly as it applies to subtle nuances associated with regional dialects and slang, but
probably not for long.
- Average salary: $33,210
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 51%
Cab drivers, bus drivers and those in related positions will almost certainly see some robot takeover in the coming years. According to recent reports, self-driving cars will be widely seen on roads in a matter of years not decades.
“Humans will gradually be eased out of these roles as regulations allow driverless vehicles on
the roads,” says Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future. Talwar also notes we’ll likely see robot
drivers operating trucks and rescue vehicles as well.
According to Kelley Blue Book, Level 5 autonomous vehicles that can drive themselves on any
road in any condition with no human intervention are still theoretical, but Level 4 vehicles that
can navigate closed loops are now in development.
- Average salary: $26,770
- Percentage of respondents who predict a robot takeover: 63%
In 2022, CNN reported on the great replacement of the most important employee — and
arguably most underpaid and undervalued — in the retail world: the cashier. Studies show that
shoppers utterly loathe self-checkout, and that the expensive, hard-to-install systems frustrate
store owners, too, because they enable shoplifting and are prone to frequent breakdowns. Even
so, self-checkout technology is taking over retail. Companies like Pixevia provide platforms that
fully automate not just store shopping, but management, as well.
These Jobs That Robots Can’t Touch — Yet
The Tidio study also asked respondents about the jobs they thought were least likely to be taken over by robots. Here are the results:
- Mechanic: 16%
- Electrician: 19%
- Nurse: 21%
- Lawyer: 26%
- Doctor: 30%
- Police officer: 31%
- Therapist: 35%
- Musician: 36%
- Artist: 39%
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Kaitlin Willow contributed to the reporting for this article.