Technological unemployment

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Technological unemployment refers to the displacement of human workers from the job market in favour of some form of automated worker or technology.

Jobs under threat from automation

Potential jobs under threat from automation range from manual and unskilled labour, to more complex roles such as in healthcare, law, and stock trading.

According to a joint study conducted by Oxford University and the Oxford Martin School, “[…] 47 percent of jobs in the US are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years.” [1]

Below is a list of jobs currently facing threat of loss to automated technologies.

Accounting & Finance

  • As AI becomes more advanced, it will be more able to handle tasks such as filing people's taxes. [2]
  • A Japanese firm named Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance layed off 34 employees and replaced them with an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can calculate insurance payouts. [3]
  • At JP Morgan, An AI named COIN has Completed 360,000 Hours of Finance Work in Just Seconds [4]
  • Wall Street Traders could be under threat from artificial intelligence. [5]


  • A new type of robot that lays brick is coming to the UK, putting thousands of jobs at risk. [6]
  • Recycled roads which require no maintenance, leading to fewer jobs in the public infrastructure sector. [7]
  • In the past building a house could take weeks, or even months, new 3D printing technology is changing this. [8] Some homes Can Now Be Made In A Day With 3D Printing [9] this will lead to fewer jobs in the construction industry. A house 3D printed by the company PassivDom costs $32,000 and takes only 8 hours to build. [10]
  • A bridge in Amsterdam is being 3D printed. [11]

Customer Service

  • Thanks to developments in personalization and human interaction, artificial intelligence is more efficient than ever in customer service. [12]
  • In the fast food industry, the ability of ordering via either smartphone apps, or through computerised kiosks is also becoming more prevalent. This may lead to a reduction in the number of customer service jobs at such businesses. [13] [14] [15]

Farming, Fishing and Food Production

  • InnovaSea Systems has raised $15 million to develop an all-in-one system for farming fish in the open ocean. They plan to bring the product to market in 2018. They will test its technology at fish farms in Panama and Mexico [16] this could lead to a reduced need of fisherman.
  • Farming has become more and more machine automated. In the future, farmers may sit behind screens. [17]
  • Drones are also being used more frequently in the agriculture sector. [18] [19]
  • 3D printed lab-grown meat could also disrupt the food industry as a whole. [20]

Healthcare and Legal professionals

  • Due to progress in AI, certain jobs within these fields will be replaced. [21]
  • A chatbot has been developed that can overturn parking tickets, has also given free legal aid to people who couldn’t afford lawyers for their emergency housing issues, and is now being used to help refugees with asylum applications. [22]
  • Unchanged for the past hundred years, the legal industry now faces being automatized. [23]

Information Technology

  • Vinod Khosla, envisions a future where Artificial Intelligence will take over 80 percent of IT jobs. [24]

Manual Labour & Food Preparation

  • Robot manufacturers are increasingly targeting the services sector, and that includes flipping burgers. [25]
  • A machine named "Sally" can create a variety of salads using a combination of 21 ingredients. Although the machine does need human help in order for it to operate. [26]
  • Shipping company Shentong Express has managed to slash labor costs in half by using sorting robots developed by Hikvision. [27]
  • An automated fruit picking machine could replace many manual labour jobs. [28]

Sex Workers

  • In February of 2017 it was reported that a brothel in Barcelona had opened using "sex dolls". [29]
  • In March of the same year; reports said that the brothel had been forced out after protests by sex trade workers who complained it was stealing their trade. [30]

Transportation workers

  • With the rise of automated driving technologies; taxi drivers, bus drivers, and truck drivers are all under threat their jobs being replaced. [31]
  • Drones as a means of delivering goods directly could also lead to a reduced need for delivery drivers and perhaps even postal services. [32]
  • A robot that can replace fork-lift truck operators is being put into production. [33]

Writing and Content Creation

  • It is predicted that by 2018, 20% of business content will be authored by machines. [34]
  • The trailer for the movie Morgan was created with the help of AI.

List of Technologies Used in Automation

Possible solutions

Related Media



Below are links to infographics relating to Technological Unemployment:


In Fiction

Technological unemployment related themes have featured in fictitious media such as:

Critique of Technological Unemployment

  • Whereas some believe that automation will lead to technological unemployment, others believe that new jobs will be created in their place. [46] Information technology, artificial intelligence and robotics will affect almost all occupations, but how that will occur for each is unclear. Many people will be displaced by technology, while the demand for other jobs will increase. New industries will be born and other as-yet-unimagined jobs will be created. [47]
  • Some also believe that increased automation will lead to a reduction in meaningless jobs, and that this is a good thing. [48]
  • Others have attempted to put together lists of jobs that could survive automation. [49] [50]
  • A report from The Heritage Foundation makes the case that automation and technology increase living standards. [51]
  • Thomas Frey says there are 78 skills that will be difficult to automate. [52]
  • An article written on states; "Robots 'have created 261,000 new jobs' in US automotive sector, not destroyed them" [53] Hinting that although in the short term job losses may occur, others may replace them.

Automation Risk

Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers worries that automation is creating is a world devoid of consciousness. [54]

See also

External links


  1. Here’s Why the Answer to Increasing Automation Could Be Universal Basic Income
  2. Robots Will Soon Do Your Taxes. Bye-Bye, Accounting Jobs
  3. Japanese insurance firm replaces 34 staff with AI
  4. An AI Completed 360,000 Hours of Finance Work in Just Seconds
  5. Wall Street Traders are Getting Crushed by AI
  6. This Robot Works 500% Faster Than Humans, and It Puts Thousands of Jobs at Risk
  7. Introducing 100% Recycled, Maintenance-Free Roads
  8. Housing company Apis Cor is 3D printing new houses in a day
  9. Constructing the Future: Homes Can Now Be Made In A Day With 3D Printing
  10. PassivDom can 3D print you a $32,000 house in eight hours
  11. Robots Are 3D-Printing an Engineering Marvel
  12. 5 Industries Being Most Affected By Artificial Intelligence
  13. Tim Hortons, Burger King launching mobile order-and-pay app in Canada
  14. Wendy's bringing self-ordering kiosks, new app to the masses in 2016
  15. Fast food workers are becoming obsolete
  16. Ocean fish farming could commercialize in 2018
  17. Farmers of the Future Will Sit Behind Screens
  18. Six Ways Drones are Revolotionising Agriculture
  19. drones could replace $127 billion worth of human labor and services across several industries.
  20. 3D printed lab-grown meat could be in stores in the next five years
  21. Artificial Intelligence is Leading a Revolution in Medicine
  22. A Robot Lawyer Is Officially Assisting With Refugee Applications
  23. An AI Law Firm Wants to ‘Automate the Entire Legal World’
  24. 80% of IT Jobs can be Replaced by Automation, and it’s ‘Exciting’
  25. CaliBurger rolls out the worlds first burger flipping robot
  26. Sally Can Create and Serve 1,000 Different Meals, but This Chef’s Not Human
  27. Robo Revolution: A Factory Cut Labor Costs in Half, Thanks to Tiny Robots
  28. Apple Picking Robots - The Mirror
  29. PLASTIC FANTASTIC First sex doll brothel in Europe opens in Barcelona where punters can ‘fulfil fantasies without any limit’
  30. Europe’s first sex robot brothel FORCED OUT of base as prostitutes complain of competition
  31. The White House predicts nearly all truck, taxi, and delivery driver jobs will be automated
  32. Drone Delivery Economics
  33. Meet the robot that wants to replace fork lift truck drivers
  34. [ 5 Industries Where AI Is Changing Everything]
  35. Kate Raworth
  36. Doughnut Economics Book - The Guardian
  37. Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us
  38. With Automation Looming, the US Needs To Make Education Affordable Or Fail
  39. Bill Gates - The Robot That Takes Your Job Should Pay Taxes
  40. Bill Gates Robot Tax
  41. What's Wrong With Bill Gates' Robot Tax
  42. Bill Gates - Robot Tax, Automation and Jobs
  43. Entrepreneurship is More Important in the Age of Automation, Says Akashic Ventures
  44. Richard Di Natale: four-day week could help cope with jobs lost to automation
  45. Rise of the Machines: We Can Stop Automation From Destroying Society
  46. Three Major Reasons Automation Won't Leave You Unemployed
  47. Policymakers 'flying blind' into the future of work
  48. Automation Could Replace Meaningless Jobs and None Too Soon
  49. 10 High Paying Jobs That Will Survive Robot Invasion
  50. Jobs Will Survive Automation
  51. Automation and Technology Increase Living Standards
  52. 78 Skills Difficult to Automate
  53. Robots 'have created 261,000 new jobs' in US automotive sector, not destroyed them
  54. Automation Nightmare: Philosopher Warns We Are Creating a World Without Consciousness