Innovation

Here's how long it will take before your job is stolen by a robot

Top AI researchers have surveyed hundreds of scientists to come up with a timeline for when different jobs will be automated. Here's what you need to know.

With advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation moving at lightening speed, many of us are worried about what will become of our jobs. According to Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist and co-director at the MIT IDE, we have entered the "second machine age"—the point at which technologies are now replacing workplace tasks once considered routine. And there's a good reason to be concerned: The self-driving trucking industry alone is poised to take over 1.7 million trucking jobs in the next decade.

So when, exactly, will our jobs be replaced by machines? And which jobs are most at-risk? These are the anxiety-inducing questions at the forefront of our minds.

Thanks to research by top AI experts, there are some answers. In a collaboration between the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, the AI Impacts Project and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, 352 scientists were surveyed about their predictions for the timeline when specific jobs will be replaced by machines.

screen-shot-2017-06-22-at-11-10-36-am.png
Image: Research paper: "When Will AI Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from AI Experts"

Here are some highlights from their report:

  • 2021: Laundry-folding can be done by machines
  • 2027: Self-driving trucks could replace truckers
  • 2031: Retail jobs could be performed by machines
  • 2049: AI writes a New York Times bestselling novel
  • 2053: Surgeons could be replaced by robots

SEE: Why automation in the age of AI will change the way we think of work

However, there's still some time before we should all start panicking. According to the research, there is still a long way to go before all jobs become automated—in fact, they predict just a 50% chance that machines will replace all human jobs in 120 years. And while AI is guaranteed to replace certain tasks, it's likely to create many new jobs as well: Recent research from IDC, released by Salesforce, predicts that AI will create 823,734 jobs by 2021.

Still, the results illustrate that a great many tasks will be automated in the near future. According to the researchers, "...many of the AI milestones were forecast to be achieved in the next decade, providing ground-truth evidence about the reliability of individual experts."


Also see...

About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox