Five Jobs Robots Will Take First

Consider what it would have been like to have been employed as a carriage driver when the automobile was invented. Or to have worked in the paper map division of Rand McNally when smartphones began telling us where to go?

These questions came to mind while I was attending the BNP Paribas Tennis tournament last week. While watching a player challenge an ‘out’ call, I asked my wife why we need a tennis umpire when every debatable decision is made by video replay! As times change, so do our jobs (and how we do them!). Today’s post is a rehash of a brilliant article by Shelley Palmer of The Palmer Group. In it, he highlights five jobs that are moving from humans to robots. And stay tuned because next week I’ll speak about the five jobs robots will take last! Enjoy!


1. Middle Management

If your main job function is taking a number from one box in Excel and putting it in another box in Excel and writing a narrative about how the number got from place to place, robots are knocking at your door. Any job where your “special and unique” knowledge of the industry is applied to divine a causal relationship between numbers in a matrix is going to be replaced first. Be ready.

2. Commodity Salespeople (Ad Sales, Supplies, etc.)

Unless you sell dreams or magic or negotiate using special perks, bribes or other valuable add-ons that have nothing to do with specifications, price and availability, start thinking about your next gig. Machines can take so much cost out of any sales process (request for proposal, quotation, order and fulfillment system), it is the fiduciary responsibility of your CEO and the board to hire robots. You’re fighting gravity … get out!

3. Report Writers, Journalists, Authors & Announcers

Writing is tough. But not report writing. Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class.

4. Accountants & Bookkeepers

Data processing probably created more jobs than it eliminated, but machine learning–based accountants and bookkeepers will be so much better than their human counterparts, you’re going to want to use the machines. Robo-accounting is in its infancy, but it’s awesome at dealing with accounts payable and receivable, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Big Four auditing is in for a big shake-up, very soon.

5. Doctors

This may be one of the only guaranteed positive outcomes of robots’ taking human jobs. The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) report. In practice, if everyone who ever wanted to be a doctor became one, we still would not have enough doctors.

The good news is that robots make amazing doctors, diagnosticians and surgeons. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, IBM’s Watson is teaming up with a dozen US hospitals to offer advice on the best treatments for a range of cancer, and also helping to spot early-stage skin cancers. And ultra-precise robo-surgeons are currently used for everything from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. This trend is continuing at an incredible pace. I’m not sure how robodoc bedside manner will be, but you could program a “Be warm and fuzzy” algorithm and the robodoc would act warm and fuzzy. (Maybe I can get someone to program my human doctors with a warm and fuzzy algorithm?) (Shelley Palmer)

Head Shot

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

Source – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit:

Improving Your Working Relationship With Your Robot Assistant

Imagine that your boss has sent you to an all-day workshop at the local Hilton. His last minute invitation meant you don’t even know the workshop topic. As the speaker begins, you are surprised to see the presentation is about “How to improve your relationship with your work robots”.

Does this sound far-fetched? It likely isn’t – at least if we look to the near future. A recent interview with technology market leaders reminded us that an emerging training priority is “the need for leaders to prepare their people to coexist and collaborate with machines in the decade ahead” (Boston Consulting Group). We have slowly been getting used to machines filling our soft drink cups at McDonalds, replacing our favorite bank teller with an app and self-scanning our passports at US Customs (see The Move to CX). This is just the beginning of a shift towards an increasingly technological work day. During the industrial age we had to learn to co-exist with machines. In the years ahead, we will have to learn to learn to co-exist with the technology which is invading our workplaces. This means we will have to stop complaining about our robots and the digital assistants that are assigned to make us more productive. Instead, we will have to learn to thrive alongside them.

In addition to working more effectively with technology, here are 10 other skills that the experts think we need to be developing in order to succeed in our careers in 2020.

Top 10 Skills

History teaches us that nothing stays the same. The pace of change is staggering. It also means that we will have to adapt our skills to fit an ever-changing world. What skills would you add to this list?


Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

Image Credit: FastCompany