Image recognition software and voice recognition software are bringing some major advances to language translation.
Applications like Google’s Word Lens can translate words from signs and documents in real time and there are a plethora of translation apps that allow you to type in a word or phrase and will translate it for you.
Some will even speak the phrase for you. Granted, there are still cultural cues this technology misses, but raw word-to-word translation will be fully automated soon.
So, if you’re not translating high-dollar business negotiations or matters of national security, then you may find that algorithms will be good enough to handle most other translation duties.
Whenever you apply for insurance through a broker or agent, your application has to be vetted to determine if the risk is worth accepting for the insurance company. The work is performed by underwriters. They review the application and decide whether or not they’ll provide insurance, and how much they’ll offer.
The role of insurance underwriter is at risk for automation because applications can be standardized and most organizations have set rules by which they determine eligibility.
Machine learning can help computer systems learn these rules and apply them to the applications they receive.
But, e-commerce is changing how we make purchasing decisions, especially those where there isn’t much differentiation among the major competitors.
If you’re selling a high-differentiation product and/or a high-price, low-volume product you have some job security, but if you’re selling a high-volume, low-differentiation product, you better start polishing your resume, said Doug Camplejohn, CEO of Fliptop. "These kind of product sales are all moving online."
Call center worker
At this point, most people are familiar with automated customer service lines and telemarketing.
Using natural-language processing, automated call lines are able to better understand what customers are saying and direct them to the proper resource.
There’s usually still an option to be routed to a ’real person’, but even that could be eliminated in the next few years.
Additionally, automation could lead to fewer calls to helplines in general, at least on the customer service side of things. Smart systems, remotely monitored by sensors, could help with product maintenance and ward off potential problems.
Sorting takes a trained eye and sorters typically work in a factory, pulling damaged or imperfect products from a batch as it moves along a conveyor belt.
Automated inspection technology is growing to match the human output for this job.
Right now it’s common for people to be manually sorting and inspecting every single item -- a seat belt bolt, for example.
Vision inspection cameras used to cost $30,000, now they cost $1000, and vision inspection systems are fast, efficient and highly accurate.
For example, data from a driver’s time on the road and time on the site could be captured by an on-board sensor, combined with GPS data, and automatically fed into the backend system.
That data could then be automatically compared against daily goals and plans, and processed on behalf of that driver. The data entry is more efficient and happens faster as a result.
While lots of data -- especially historical data -- still needs to be digitized, and there will be work available to scan much of this data in the short term, the long-term need for data entry will be reduced.
But, aside from a few overly complicated tax code issues, most workers will be likely be able to file their taxes without the assistance of another human.
Tax forms are standardized and machines will be able to read the info and ask you a few questions to process your paperwork. We’ve seen this happening with software like TurboTax for years.
Of course, the tax code is complicated and where there are problems, ambiguities, and irregularities, there will still be the need for human beings with deep knowledge who can do far more than just fill out the right forms.
Fast food workers
Automated ordering kiosks have already made their way into a few McDonald’s restaurants around the world, and cooking positions could be eliminated next.
The kiosks probably can’t handle customer service issues well, but televideo systems could bring in an office employee to facilitate complaints.
Automation will affect parts of casual dining restaurants as well, as tableside tablet ordering systems have already arrived at restaurants like Chili’s and others.
New advances in the Internet of Things could render this work obsolete.
Low-cost sensors combined with high availability cellular/satellite communications and cloud technology are being implemented to automate and alarm these sites, and can be checked and maintained from a desktop or mobile device.
Assemby line workers
Tech, factories, and jobs have had a tricky relationship since the Industrial Revolution.
Robotic technology has been used in manufacturing for decades -- especially at major operations like Ford and Toyota -- and the technology continues to advance.