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AI and jobs collide as automation looms

AI automation will eliminate a broad swath of today's jobs over time, but some jobs are likely to disappear sooner than others due to the uneven pace of technology development.

Sure to alter the relationship between AI and jobs, a wave of automation is building that will soon crest over a diverse range of industries -- from shipping to law.

But not every industry -- much less every job within the affected industries -- will be affected by this trend. Some jobs in particular are strong candidates to be automated soon. The graphic below explores some of the broad job types and specific roles that are at risk of being automated in the near future.

As AI and jobs start to collide, the earliest roles to be handed to the machines will involve low-skill tasks that are repetitive and predictable. Manufacturing, basic labor and construction work are all probable areas for near-term automation.

However, other jobs, some of which involve higher level skills, are also being targeted for automation. Driverless cars will likely put a lot of trucking and delivery drivers out of work. Virtual assistant technology is constantly getting smarter, which could soon lead to the replacement of many clerical workers. Beyond that, any role that involves moving, sorting and analyzing data could soon be filled by an algorithm.

Jobs at risk of being automated by AI
AI will automate some job sooner than others.

While there is much debate over the ultimate impact of automation on overall employment, the type of work people do will undoubtedly change. Some jobs will be eliminated, but along the way, new jobs will be created. This leaves open the potential that overall employment will increase as a result of AI automation.

But not everyone shares that positive outlook. And it will certainly come as little comfort to people who lose the work they have been doing for decades and find it hard to train for new jobs that demand high education, setting up AI and jobs as a source of contention for years to come.

This was last published in August 2018

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