Automation and artificial intelligence are prominent buzzwords that are getting integrated in everyday life more and more with each passing year. The rise of automation and AI has allowed machines to supplant humans in certain tasks and make processes more efficient. However, there are still many jobs deemed incompatible with automation.
Featured below are some of the occupations unlikely to be occupied by robots or machines, at least in the foreseeable future.
1. Primary medical care, therapy, caregiving, and child care
Robots are used in medicine including surgeries. Some are even used for remote medical procedures. The underlying technology for medical robotics, though, is still far from reaching a point that is comparable to how human primary care physicians work. So far, no concept technologies have been developed to build robots that are good enough to replace therapists, caregivers and child care workers. It all boils down to empathy and communication. Machines lack these two attributes that are vital in providing effective healthcare and assistance to children and the elderly.
2. Art creation
Imagine a painting, sculpture, song or movie created by a robot. Would you consider them as works of art? How different are these from computer art reproductions or randomly-generated assemblage of shapes, lines, and colors? Do these "artworks" have “soul” in them? If you ask artists, most of them will likely have unfavorable opinions on the matter. While some may have an open mind when it comes to AI art, many will raise brows over it.
To clarify, art here refers to the traditional concept of art, which entails paintings, sculptures, poetry, music, ceramics, photography and others that are considered the products of human creativity. Computer graphics and visual effects are also regarded as art since they are produced by humans working with computers. What’s controversial are the works of AI computers that come up with songs, paintings and stories autonomously.
No matter how good artificial intelligence is, it would still be difficult for humans to entrust the dispensation of justice to AI. It's one thing using artificial intelligence to facilitate the analysis of facts. I's another relegating an acquittal or conviction verdict to a machine. A scene where robots serve as the jury and adjudicator in a legal case looks more like a horror science-fiction scene than a demonstration of technological advancement.
Judges cannot be mere formalists, which is what machines are good at. A big part of them are expected to be realists. A group of researchers from University College London developed an AI system that was made to determine the appropriate decisions for (resolved) cases handled by the European Court of Human Rights. The system went over the case files and pieces of evidence for 584 cases and came up with decisions. The researchers found the system’s decisions to be 79 percent accurate (based on the actual verdicts for the evaluated cases).
Being close to an 8 out of 10 "accuracy rate" does not look that great. The researchers acknowledge that AI is unlikely to replace human judges or lawyers, but they believe the system they developed can be helpful for judges when it comes to prioritizing cases.
4. Language translation and interpreting
Language translation is another job that machines cannot effectively handle. While there are gadgets, apps and web-based services that can perform simple translations, they are far from becoming as accurate and contextually-precise as human translations. There's a reason why governments and businesses still hire human translators and interpreters for official functions.
5. Computer programming
If machines learn to do computer programming autonomously, the future of humanity will be uncertain. With the ability to program, robots will continue improving artificial intelligence technology and possibly reach a point that they would “think” they are superior to humans.
However, at present, it would be difficult for machines to be their own programmers. Programming is not some repetitive mindless task. It requires concepts and creativity. It needs an autonomous entity to serve as the source of ideas. If it’s extremely challenging to develop a program that can automagically convert programs in one language to another, don’t expect the creation of a programming-capable AI system anytime soon. AI might be capable of writing codes, but this does not mean they can replace human programmers.
Management jobs are incompatible with automation. It's difficult to relegate them to artificial intelligence. Managers are like judges. They need to take on various perspectives and purviews as they direct courses of action and come up with decisions. Additionally, for managers to be effective in herding a team, they need compassion, empathy, and the ability to connect to subordinates and build trust.
Drones and robots have excellent information gathering capabilities, but these don’t necessarily make them good journalists. Journalism is more than just the collection of facts and data. It’s about pursuing stories that are relevant, timely and of interest to the intended audience. More importantly, journalism serves an important role in society, being regarded as the "fourth estate." It forms part of the checks and balances in free societies. Machines have yet to learn journalistic discretion and the sense of chasing stories that matter.
8. Chef-level food preparation
You may have heard of a robot that was once considered the world’s first robotic chef. This robot from Moley Robotics, however, is far from a fraction of what a real chef is. It does not have the creativity of a chef. It is even incapable of tasting the food it prepares to determine if it's worth serving. It relies on instructions to prepare dishes, definitely not what a real chef is expected to do.
In summary, it’s a tall order and even virtually impossible for machines to take on jobs that require creativity, original ideas, empathy, and other attributes inherent among humans. Technological advancements may eventually give rise to better robotic chefs, managers, judges, or artists, but in the near future, the jobs mentioned above are safe from AI and robotic domination.