No one wants to think about the prospect of their job becoming automated, but the prominence of next-generation AI technology, brought to the fore by ChatGPT at the beginning of this year, has triggered some interesting conversations about what artificial intelligence is capable of.
Questions of this kind are certainly not new and have been asked in one form or another since self-serve checkouts were introduced into our stores back in 1986. However, with DALL-E able to create realistic images and unique artwork in mere seconds, and ChatGPT being deployed by teachers to formulate lesson plans, and doctors to assist in medical diagnoses, the discussion has moved on.
It is no longer just conveyor-belt-style processes where AI might take over, and there is a very real possibility that no career is safe from becoming automated. At DailyAI.com we took a look at some interesting figures coming out of England which highlight the occupations that are the most at risk from automation in the near future:
Waitressing runs the most risk of being automated
If you eat in London’s Din Tai Fung, you’ll spy a couple of robot waiters gliding around the restaurant, delivering food to customers and plates back to the kitchen. This may feel quite futuristic but it could soon become the norm, with 72.81% of waiting and waitressing jobs thought to be at risk of becoming automated.
The ONS, which ran the survey, is keen to stress that this shouldn’t be seen as confirmation that robots are taking over, but rather that artificial intelligence can often carry out routine and repetitive tasks more efficiently when utilizing an algorithm written by a human or a machine dedicated to one specific function.
This also explains why shelf-fillers and elementary sales roles, which ranked at 71.70% and 70.69% respectively, were the occupations second and third most at risk of automation. That said, with the United Kingdom’s first robot restaurant, Robotazia, having closed its doors in March this year due to rising energy bills, we may not need to worry about the implications just yet.
Medical practitioners run the least risk of becoming automated
Doctors are reportedly using ChatGPT to improve their bedside manners and to provide remote care to patients, thus reducing the need for in-patient visits. While ChatGPT definitely has its benefits in the healthcare industry, medical practitioners don’t need to worry about their roles becoming obsolete just yet, with the ONS survey pointing to only a small risk of automation (18.11%).
The medical industry boasts the lowest risk of becoming automated, followed closely by higher education teaching professionals, who have just a 20.27% chance of automation, and senior education teaching professionals, who face a comparably small risk of having their roles taken over, at just 20.61%. These occupations are all considered to be highly skilled and require a specific level of knowledge that cannot easily be replicated by an algorithm.
Jobs in Boston are the most at risk
Some areas in the United Kingdom are more industrialized than others and therefore the risk of automation changes from region to region, as it is driven by the type of work available in any given area. Generally, the more high-skilled jobs there are in the area, the lower the overall risk of automation will be.
Boston in Lincolnshire has been a major hub of industry since the 19th Century and is widely known throughout the United Kingdom for its industrial and manufacturing sector. There are several large factories within the region and the manufacturing industry accounts for 23.9% of all jobs. As a result, this region faces the highest risk of automation with predictions that as many as 29.46% of roles could soon become machine-based.
Further south, Purbeck in Dorset is famed for its stone quarries, but while Purbeck marble is highly sought after, quarrying for it is a dangerous pursuit. Quarry workers are twice as likely to be killed in an accident compared with construction workers, and an alarming thirteen times more likely to be killed than those holding jobs within the manufacturing industry.
In this case, automation is not just seen as a money-saving initiative, but rather an answer to the risks of a perilous industry. It is for this reason that Purbeck has an overall 21.04% risk of job losses to automation – the second highest within the United Kingdom.
In Torridge, a region of Devon famed for producing Dartington Crystal, artificial intelligence is already being harnessed to understand which products its customers are truly interested in. However, the region has a 19.85% risk of losing many of its jobs to automation, and could soon be the case that its hand-made and hand-blown glass pieces are largely replaced by machine-made goods.
Jobs in Lambeth are at the least risk of being automated
Over a quarter of all the roles in Lambeth are situated within the health industry, so it should be no surprise to hear that this London borough is the area in the United Kingdom where jobs run the lower risk of becoming automated, at just 0.38%.
The creative and digital sectors are also major sectors within Lambeth, with the borough being home to the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, and IBM. The latter is pioneering artificial intelligence with its own product, IBM Watson Orchestrate, which automates tedious tasks for digital workers.
Epsom and Ewell is the second least likely place in the United Kingdom to face job automation, running a risk of just 1.25%. In large part, this is because it is home to the Nuffield Health Headquarters and, like Lambeth, has a thriving health industry sector, which accounts for 16.3% of roles within the area.
East Cambridgeshire follows close behind, with a low 1.4% risk of roles in the area suffering from automation. The largest sector within the region is business administration and support services, which accounts for 12.8% of all roles. However, the fastest growing sector is the teaching and education professionals sector, which saw a 136% rise in roles between July 2021 and July 2022. As an occupation, business administration and research runs a relatively low 24% risk of becoming automated, while the risk for teaching professionals is even lower, at 20.27% for those in the higher education sector.
Young people are more at risk of job automation
Those sitting in the 20-24 age bracket are the most at risk of finding their jobs automated, at 15.7%. When young people first enter the labor market, they often look to enter part-time roles that fit in with their studies, or work in industries such as retail, hospitality, and manufacturing where some degree of automation is highly likely, which accounts for this finding.
Those who tend to be shielded from the risk of AI takeover are workers who have gained specialist skills and knowledge over the course of many years, and this of course is not the case for those only starting out on their careers.
The statistics indicate that job security improves as workers move up the age bands, although there is a distinct blip occurring in the 30-34 and the 35-39 bands. The most likely explanation for this is the tendency for many women to turn to part-time work during their 30s – roles that are more likely to be clerical or administrative in nature, and therefore at higher risk of automation. The effect of this persists for women until age 50 when the threat of automation goes into decline.
Women are most at risk of having their jobs automated
The IMF recently projected that 11% of all the roles held by women will be eliminated entirely by artificial intelligence. The prognosis by the ONS is no better, with its survey revealing that 70.2% of the most at-risk roles are currently held by women.
Figures from the United States show that 80.1% of all waiting staff, the occupation most at risk of automation, are women. However, even in sectors such as financial services where women hold a more equal 50% of all roles, only 25% of the senior management positions are held by women.
In comparison, 85% of all bank tellers are female. For various structural reasons, women are over-represented in routine clerical and administrative jobs, which are likely to be the first to be taken over by artificial intelligence.
As we embrace the benefits of artificial intelligence, it seems only natural that the workplace will have to adapt to the advent of new technologies.
Luke Eales, Founder of DailyAI.com, doesn’t believe that this is necessarily a bad thing: “In the case of Purbeck Stone, we’ve seen that automation is not just a means of cutting costs and reducing the workforce, but also a force for good in removing from harm’s way workers who would otherwise be running very significant risks of fatal accidents. We need to stop looking at artificial intelligence as a means of replacing jobs and instead see it as a way forward in streamlining and modernising roles. SoftBank Robotics and China’s Keenan Robotics, who are working together to make robot waiters widely available in Singapore and Japan, believe that robots won’t fully take over, but rather will assist humans in serving food, giving restaurant staff more time to focus on customer service”.
While it’s inevitable that certain jobs will in the future be replaced by artificial intelligence or automation, it is important to remember that AI has the potential to improve lives across the world. It’s anticipated that AI will create up to 97 million new jobs in the emerging sector, and at DailyAI.com we believe that is a lot to be optimistic about.