Robots: Is your job at risk?


Almost 100 years ago, the U.S. horse population peaked at about 26 million. There’s been, of course, a steady decline since then, thanks to the growth of machines — most notably, cars.

Today, a debate rages over workers and whether we too may become obsolete as society becomes automated.

The fear of robots replacing jobs is real — consider self-checkout kiosks and self-driving trucks. The good news is that specific lines of work won’t suffer the same fate as horses. Which ones? Read on. But, first, here are the jobs at greatest risk of being replaced by automation.

High risk jobs

Cashiers and toll booth operators

Jobs that require only a high school degree are most in danger. Take cashiers and toll booth operators, for example. These jobs don’t require much human analysis so are easier for machines to handle. Some toll booth operators have already been replaced by automated systems such as E-ZPass, which is used in 16 states.

Meanwhile, as many as 7.5 million retail jobs are at risk of automation in the next decade, according to a study from financial services firm Cornerstone Capital Group.

A shift is already underway. CVS (CVS) has installed self-checkouts in 448 locations. McDonald’s(MCD) and Wendy’s have also added kiosks in some restaurants, allowing customers to place orders on a touchscreen. In December, Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) teased a video of its new Seattle-based concept store Amazon Go, which has no checkout line or cash register. The payment process is automated through a customer’s smartphone, so a customer can skip the line and walk out.

“Retail is going through this existential crisis,” Gartner retail analyst Robert Hetu told CNN Tech. “There’s a need to eliminate many of the manual processes that retailers just lived with for decades.”

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