Are You Safe? 11 Jobs Robots Will Never Replace


Between aerial drones, automated teller machines, and self-checkout at the grocery store, jobs formerly held by humans have slowly been usurped and given to robots and computers. And, according to Jeremy Garner of The Guardian, even creatives, who have actually faired pretty well in times of economic downturns, might be next… though robots, Garner admits, will probably never be able to replace human-specific qualities, like intuition or original thought.

“The data side is constantly being whacked into shape by our robot friends,” Garner writes in Business Insider. “It’s all around us every day; distilling down the myriad streams of information into relevant, meaningful and usable conclusions. But the intuition part seems to be much more of a challenge for them…But does it need to be?…Could algorithms be developed that could add some pre-determined intuition of their own, to see what unexpected avenues could be arrived upon for use by creative thinkers?”

Honestly, though, even if some of the data-crunching and resulting ideating that creatives do could be taken over by computers, we’re still pretty sure there are plenty of jobs that won’t be scooped up by processing systems. Here are just a few we came up with:

Photographer: Come on. Everyone knows that photography is about more than pushing a button. Not only could a robot probably not find itself in the right place, at the right time to take a beautiful photo, it also most likely couldn’t connect with the subject in any kind of way to elicit an emotional response.

Teacher: Could a robot tell your kids valuable information and grade their tests? Sure. But could a robot explain to little Timmy why throwing his PB&J across the room isn’t a very kind thing to do? No.

Lawyer: A computer could easily reference all of the land use laws for your city, county, and state, but a large part of the legal profession is creative thinking. Imagine two robots duking it out in a courtroom over morality issues. That would be the most boring “Law & Order” episode ever.

Entrepreneur: Hey, robot. Try to invent the next big app or incredible start-up or amazing small business. Go on. We’ll wait. Oh, no we won’t. We’ll just keep inventing them.

Musician: Though algorithms for creating music exist, and Garner even references “EMI – Experiments in Musical Intelligence – which works by looking for patterns in works by composers and then replicating them in new ways,” it’s just biting off other creative peoples’ work.

Designer: Graphic design is as much about taste as it is about actually creating images. And you know what robots are terrible at? Having good taste. That’s why they’re so poorly dressed.

Poet: Yeah, yeah, Google Poetics is kind of poignant and beautiful, but even a sophisticated computer couldn’t randomly process a facsimile of human emotion.

Nurse/Doctor: Bedside manner isn’t exactly the purview of the robotic world.

Chef: A robot could follow a recipe, but, as it is lacking in tastebuds, probably couldn’t come up with anything on its own. Do you think a computer would have invented the bacon maple bar? The Cronut? The Seattle Dog, which is a hot dog with cream cheese on it?

Journalist: Despite the invention of multiple apps and computer programs designed to break news more quickly with what are essentially canned articles, really excellent journalism requires thought and consideration, as well as the ability to interview sources in a way that draws out critical and emotionally weighty information.

Circus clown: Robots aren’t very funny… though they are scary, so maybe it depends on how you feel about clowns.

Of course, in 100 years when robots have completely taken over the world, this list will seem archaic and hilarious. But as of right now, the lawyers, photographers, teachers, and clowns among us are probably safe to look smugly upon robots as we do our creative, human-require jobs.

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.