When I was a kid, the idea of robots taking our jobs was, at best, the subject for a potential science fiction novel. At worst, it was the absurd conjecture of a delusional thinker. But technology has advanced so quickly that the robot takeover is only a matter of time. By the year 2021, robots will be working 6% of our jobs. They’ll be our drivers, our customer service agents, our concierges. As innovation continues, that 6% number will look pretty minimal.
But there are jobs a robot will never be able to do. These jobs require a uniquely human skill set. Anyone who’s interested in staying employed once the robots take over can rest assured. These jobs aren’t going anywhere soon.
1. Project Manager
At first blush, project management seems like glorified customer service. It’s so much more than that. Project managers must be able to build emotionally intelligent relationships with clients. To be a good PM you have to both determine the right steps to reach a goal and possess people skills that make goals attainable. The top personality traits of an effective project manager are:
> Positivity Artificial Intelligence might be able to imitate a positive attitude, but employees and clients will know the difference; true warmth and confidence help drive quality work
> Honesty Given that hackers may be able to compromise robot security, people will never know if robots are honest
> Good Listener/Communicator To be a good communicator, one must be able to recognise emotional subtleties, such as those expressed through body language
> Able to Take Criticism If a piece of criticism doesn’t have any bearing on a robot’s algorithm, how will it be able to adjust?
Robots might be able to help take a project from Point A to Point B, but they would need emotional intelligence the whole way. As far as I know, there aren’t any algorithms for that.
2. Emergency Hotline Operator
A study of conversation agents such as Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and S Voice revealed what many of us could have guessed: Artificial Intelligence does a terrible job when it comes to complex human problems. CPW Law details the results of the study. The bots couldn’t provide helpful responses to simple questions about mental health, interpersonal violence, and physical health. Although AI can sort through tons of data on resources, each person’s issues are unique to the individual. When it comes to truly important questions that contain emotional content, it would be scary to see bots behind the wheel.
A dermatologist is a physician who specialises in skin care. Similar to the project manager and the emergency hotline operator, the dermatologist must be well-equipped with emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. What’s more, Dermatologists have people’s lives in their hands. They perform surgery on both benign and malignant skin cancer lesions. Dermatologists must be able to show sympathy for people with severe skin problems. Bots don’t have sympathy–they can only simulate it–and it’s tough to want to go to a doctor who doesn’t have any emotional investment in how the operation turns out.
4. Creative Writer
How can you turn creativity into an algorithm? Granted, AI might be able to compose sentences by scanning through a digital library of books and combining words in grammatically correct forms. But it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to compose an algorithm that could distinguish the whole piece as being more than the combination of its individual words. True creativity takes the ability to bridge connections between concepts and words that previously weren’t connected. It takes the ability to see the overall picture. Research professor of cognitive science Margaret Boden points out that AI would have a particularly hard time evaluating any new ideas it creates. Critical evaluation is the difference between quality and crap.
5. Therapist/Social Worker
This is yet another profession that takes emotional intelligence. Therapists have to be adept at seeing things from the patient’s perspective. At best, AI can calculate what the next logical step would be for, say, a drug addict. Obviously, the heroin addict should go to the methadone clinic, attend Narcotics Anonymous, and develop a support network of family and friends with whom she can confide. This will help her kick the habit. Therapists and social workers provide a different service. They go beyond logic. They create an emotional connection, which helps the addict listen to logical advice when it comes.