Sammy Nickalls
August 04, 2015 4:15 pm

So you know that movie, I, Robot, starring Will Smith? Yeah, that’s gonna be our society IRL. Fine, fine, so that MIGHT an exaggeration, but according to a recent article published by Oxford researchers, robots are going to be taking quite a few jobs in the future.

The researchers analyzed skills required for over 700 occupations to figure out how many of them could be easily conducted by our robotic friends (or should we say, enemies), and the news is a little bit scary: Machines are likely going to be taking over almost half (47%) of today’s jobs within just a few decades. Eek. But ladies, take comfort. . . jobs done primarily by women are probably safe, according to the researchers, who found that those usually performed by men are the ones in jeopardy.

So why the huge difference? Here’s the rundown: obviously, there are countless jobs out there with a gender bias; for example, as The Atlantic points out, 95% of the 3 million truck drivers in the United States are men, while 95% of the near 3 million secretaries are women. Self-driving vehicles certainly aren’t an impossibility in the near future, but an automated secretary would be considerably more difficult, given the variety of duties and judgment calls a secretary makes on a day-to-day basis.

Need another example? As The Atlantic highlights, approximately 97% of U.S. construction and carpentry jobs are held by men, while 93% of nurses are women. An automated method of building houses seems considerably more realistic and understandable than an automated nurse, given the need for compassion and human interaction in hospitals.

Often, male-dominated professions involve physical manipulation and exertion — something that recent technology is able to perform successfully. But in many jobs and careers dominated by women, who typically “work in more chaotic, unstructured environments, where the ability to read people’s emotions and intentions are critical to success” as The Atlantic explains, aren’t easily taken over by a computer with little-to-no ability to process human emotion and empathy.

In other words, robots and artificial intelligence functions well with specific, objective, goal-oriented jobs. A robot can paint a yellow strip in the middle of the road, but only a human can help guide an elderly patient back to his room and tuck him in… for now, anyway. The more compassion needed for your profession, the more you can rest easy.

Even so, the thought of jobs slowly but steadily being taken away by robots is nothing short of terrifying. But as ZDNet‘s Jason Hiner points out, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

As Hiner explains, farming used to be one of the largest sources of labor in the United States, but when technological advances made that number dwindle, we saw a surge in U.S. employment in the technology field. “While those numbers net out quite nicely, obviously not all of those farmers became computer technicians and software engineers,” Hiner says. “But, it’s probably fair to say that a share of the kids who might have worked on the family farm ended up getting educated in computers and ultimately found more lucrative work there.”

Nonetheless, society will find a way to adapt, says Garry G. Mathiason, chairman of law firm Littler Mendelson, which has a specialization in robotics employment law issues. “There will be a displacement and there will be a repositioning of people into jobs that we don’t even have today that we will have in the future,” Mathiason told Fast Company. “If you look back in history, you’ll see that this disruption has been going on for some time. Not as fast as what we’re currently experiencing, but nonetheless there.”

There you have it: Women and men alike, take a deep breath and wipe the sweat off your brow. It’s all good. (Though we always have Will Smith just in case things go in the direction of sci-fi.)

(Image via IMDb)

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