7 jobs you'll have to trust robots to do in the near future

Chances are you will not have a job in the future. This isn't anything against you personally, or even a comment on the economy. It's just a statement of fact. As technology (and specifically robotics) marches into the future, there will simply less of a need for human workers and all their annoying human-y hang-ups such as "due compensation," "sick time" and "sleep."

Futurist Thomas Frey has gone as far to predict that two billion jobs (nearly 50% of all current jobs) will be technologically outmoded by 2030. If this prediction holds true, any child born today will graduate from high school into a radically different world where all human needs are met cheaply, but where there will be little need for actual humans.

We've only begun to see the beginning of this new jobless age where all services are filled by robots and other assorted automatons. And this coming iceberg is much bigger than you probably think. Here, we present a list of jobs will be "manned" by robots in the closer-than-you-think future.




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1. Drivers

Self-driving cars (or robot cars) are coming to a street near you. They are greener, cheaper and safer. So, where there's a more efficient way, there will be an economic will to develop it.

Traditional manufacturers have predicted that we will see a commercially viable self-driving car this decade. As these robo-cars fill our streets and highways, there are a slew of occupations that will no longer need some inefficient human. Taxi drivers, bus operators and delivery jobs might be some career paths to guide your kids away from. But this driverless era would eventually outmode other jobs, too, such as gas station attendants, valets, automotive claims adjusters and even traffic cops.

In addition to robotic cars for individuals, governments are beginning to invest in automated public transportation. In fact, this world of robotic public transportation is arguably already here. The dictionary defines a robot as "a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks." By this parameter, the age of robotic transportation has been replacing human operators for years, if not decades.

If you've ever taken an airport tram to speed you between terminals, the chances are that the vehicle you were on had no human in charge. And if you want to get crazy, the everyday elevator could be described as a robot that carries people between floors (a technology that in its earliest days was run by human operators before becoming fitted to "automatically perform complicated often repetitive tasks").




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2. Teachers

South Korea is the nation at the vanguard of creating a freaky robot future. And in that robot-centric view of the future, the country has begun an ambitious plan to introduce robots into the educational system.

Many of these robot classroom aides are, for now, little more than glorified novelties or telepresence mediums. While these current devices might be best described as a human teacher's aide, they will develop capabilities over time and will take over more and more responsibilities currently handled by Homo sapien schoolmasters.

it may sound crazy to us old farts, but today's children are for more comfortable interacting with technology than any other previous generation. They already surf the vast digital seas with as much tenacity as their parents. it wouldn't be too much of a shock to them to have tests and lesson plans administered by what is essentially a roving interactive computer.




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3. Farmers

Following last year's catastrophes, large swaths of farmland in the Miyagi prefecture in northeast Japan were left ravaged. The soil was laden with salt and oil from the tsunami, as well as radiation contamination from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But where there's devastation, there is also opportunity. In this case, the opportunity is for Japan's Ministry of Agriculture to experiment with a massive "robot farm" where automated machines will grow rice, wheat, soybeans, fruits and vegetables.

The so-called "Dream Project" will be built on a disaster zone spanning 600 square miles. Planning for the facility is currently underway and will be backed by a $52 million investment from the Japanese government. The project will involve unmanned tractors and other automated farmhands. The plan will even bolster crops by using recycled carbon dioxide from the onsite machines.

This is just one massive example of the coming age of robot agrarians. Over the course of the next few decades, nearly all jobs handled by human hands will be replaced by our automated and soulless synthetic friends.




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4. Construction Workers

While still early in their development, we've seen various examples of automated bots that can handle construction tasks once solely the domain of us hairless apes. Take for example bots that move about trusses with the greatest of ease; roving qudrocopters that can assemble structures nearly anywhere; and freaky snake robots that can inspect and fix perilous nooks and crannies that currently put humans at risk.

Besides being cheaper and more efficient, robots will be able to build in habitats unwelcoming to our wimpy human anatomies. NASA has taken a keen interest in creating robots that can build bases or structures in space or other extraterrestrial environments. Future construction sites will be more akin to a swarming mass of metal productivity.




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5. Soldiers

The numbers are officially top secret, but at least one source counts some 217 drone strikes in Pakistan over the past three years. These strikes are not technically the work of robot soldiers as they are operated by remote human pilots (who are usually stationed out of harm's way on a base in Nevada, BTW). Still, they are indicative of the U.S. military's push to remove human soldiers from the frontlines.

The nerd warriors over at DARPA have poured mondo bucks into developing non-living soldiers for the battlefield. We've seen everything from hummingbird-shaped nano-bot spies equipped with video cameras to terrifying, agile Cheetah-bots. Many of these designs are still years away from battle readiness, but robots are already making their mark in combat. Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, the Marine Corps' "top robot-handler" commented to Wired last year that one in 50 troops in Afghanistan are robots. These contemporary crop of battlebots are, to use a phrase, "stupid" in that they handle tasks such as investigating and defusing IEDs under remote control of a human handler. Really, these bots might be more described as "tools" than Terminators at this point.

However, it is clear that given the U.S. Military's resources and desires, the automated military is coming. War is hell. And in the future, it may be a hell devoid of human warriors.




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6. Prostitutes

The human sex drive thrives at the forefronts of technology. Porn was there at the dawn of photography, the beginning of home video tech, and has smothered itself all over the Internet (not that any of us would know anything about that). And it's probably only a matter of time before the human need for nookie spreads its filthy tentacles into the world of robotics.

A huge industry already facilitates prosthetic stand-ins for female sex partners in Real Dolls, or even for just parts of female partners. (We're not gonna link that — just Google around yourself, weirdo.) So, as robots evolve to become more human like, right down to the nitty gritty details, the jump into robot sex partners is an inevitable one.

This will bring us some interesting questions such as: Would having sex with a human-like machine be considered cheating? Could having sex with a robot be as good — or perhaps even better — than sex with a human? Robot sex workers also might solve some of society's ills. Namely, substituting the need for human trafficking or stopping the spread of STDs through prostitution. Robots, which could cater to any whim, could also perform outlawed sex acts.

Technological innovation is intimately tied with the need to get intimate. Robot lovin' may sound weird, but it will happen.




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7. Doctors and Nurses

Unfortunately, even a fancy medical degree won't protect you from obsolescence. Web MD has already become the hypochondriac's go-to source for their latest malady. The X-Prize launched a $10 million prize for a team to invent a "Tricorder," a handheld device that could accurately make medical diagnosis without the help of a human doctor.

We've already have machines that are used in minimally invasive surgery. These machines are less like the medical droid that fixed Luke Skywalker's hand than they are surgeon's tools. But these tools are gaining new capabilities such as the power to administer anesthesia. The need for humans in these processes will denegrate as the machines become more sophisticated. Human doctors will take on greater oversight roles, before eventually not needing to be there at all.

One engineer has even proposed an automated system to take over the role of hospice care at the end of a patient's life. This End-of-Life Machine, which lies is somewhere in the nexus between freaky and icky, may one day be a cold stand-in goodbye for elderly patients who live alone. At the same time, in a medical home where the elderly can sometime feel abandoned or alone, robots could provide constant, unconditional affection or, at least, attention.




These are just a few of the professions that will in all likelihood go the way of the bowling pin setter and the ice delivery man. Of course, this workless existence will be counterbalanced by a world of cheap and plenty. All our needs and wants will be affordable and available. There just might not be a need for us to "work" anymore. This future doesn't necessarily spell impending doom as much as it is a problem that will require a radical reimagining of what it means to be human.


Evan Dashevsky is a DVICE contributor and a professional word nerd for hire. Follow his cough-sized thoughts on Twitter @haldash.

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