The fear of machines taking our jobs dates back hundreds of years, to the Luddites of England, who fought mechanical weaving tools in the early 19th century. But it has gotten new life as the combination of big data, improved algorithms, and raw computing power has rapidly accelerated artificial intelligence (AI).
Some jobs, such as top levels of management, doctors and many teachers, will feel limited effect from AI and the robots and systems it powers. Many of us in the middle will see some of our tasks automated: A study by the McKinsey Global Institute, a think tank, estimates that “60 percent of occupations have at least 30 percent of constituent work activities that could be automated.” And for some, the writing is on the wall: The robots will take over.
Most (but not all) of these jobs have repetitive functions and a fairly controlled environment. Many (but not all) don’t pay well. Will you still be able to find a human at the wheel of a taxi in 2040? Probably; after all, you can still get your typewriter repaired today.