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More endangered jobs

Thomas Frey //November 12, 2014//

More endangered jobs

Thomas Frey //November 12, 2014//

(Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part I.)

It’s becoming an ever increasingly blurred line between big data and artificial intelligence.

A few months ago, Stephen Hawking opened the world’s eyes to the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), warning that it has the potential of outsmarting humans in the financial markets. 

More recently, Elon Musk made headlines when he said artificial intelligence could be “unleashing the demons,” and researchers from some of the top U.S. universities say he’s not wrong.

In spite of growing fears, AI will be entering our lives in many different ways ranging from smart devices, to automated decision-makers, to synthetic designers.

When Kristian Hammond, CTO of Narrative Sciences predicted, “By 2030, 90 percent of all the news will be written by computers,” he was referring to AI software that is quickly coming up the learning curve.

Endangered Jobs


  1. News reporters
  2. Sports reporters
  3. Wall street reporters
  4. Journalists
  5. Authors


  1. Military planners
  2. Cryptographers


  1. Dietitians
  2. Nutritionists
  3. Doctors
  4. Sonographers
  5. Phlebotomists
  6. Radiologists
  7. Psychotherapists
  8. Counselors/psychologists

Financial Services

  1. Financial planners/advisors
  2. Accountants
  3. Tax advisors
  4. Auditors
  5. Bookkeepers

Legal Services

  1. Lawyers
  2. Compliance officers/workers
  3. Bill collectors


  1. Meeting/event planners
  2. Cost estimators
  3. Fitness coaches
  4. Logisticians
  5. Interpreters/translators
  6. Customer service reps
  7. Teachers

Cause of Destruction:  Mass Energy Storage

Any form of mass energy storage will dramatically improve renewable energy’s role in the marketplace. The first companies to commercialize utility-scale energy storage stand to make a fortune and pioneer some of the most significant advancements to the world’s power generation and distribution system in decades.

While we are not quite there yet, significant technological breakthroughs are on the horizon and major installations will soon become commonplace.

Large-scale methods of storing energy storage include flywheels, compressed air energy storage, hydrogen storage, thermal energy storage, and power to gas. Smaller scale commercial application-specific storage methods include flywheels, capacitors and supercapacitors.

In 5 to 10 years, the mass, grid-scale, bulk energy storage industry will likely be a rapidly growing industry much as solar and wind are today. Electricity generated but not consumed is a waste of natural resources and money lost. Energy storage will change all that.

Endangered Jobs

  1. Energy planners
  2. Environmental designers
  3. Energy auditors
  4. Power plant operators
  5. Miners
  6. Oil well drillers, roughnecks,
  7. Geologists
  8. Meter readers
  9. Gas/propane delivery

Cause of Destruction:  Robotics

Robots taking jobs from manufacturing workers has been happening for decades. But rapidly advancing software will spread the threat of job-killing automation to nearly every occupation.

Anything that can be automated will be. A robotic “doc-in-a-box” will help diagnose routine medical problems in many areas, while other machines will perform surgeries and other procedures.

If the human touch is not essential to the task, it’s fair to assume that it will be automated away.

Over the coming decades, robots will enter the lives of every person on earth on far more levels than we ever dreamed possible.

Endangered Jobs


  1. Retail clerks
  2. Checkout clerks
  3. Stockers
  4. Inventory controllers
  5. Sign spinners


  1. Surgeons
  2. Home healthcare
  3. Pharmacists
  4. Veterinarians


  1. Painters
  2. Janitors
  3. Landscapers
  4. Pool cleaners
  5. Grounds keepers
  6. Exterminators
  7. Lumberjacks

Final Thoughts

The question remains, will technology become a net-destroyer of jobs or a net-creator?

For each of the endangered jobs listed above, I can easily come up with several logical offshoots that may amount to a net increase in jobs.

As an example, traditional lawyers may transition into super-lawyers handling 10 times the caseload of lawyers today. Limo drivers may become fleet operators managing 50-100 cars at a time. Painters may become conductors of paint symphonies with robot painters completing entire houses in less than an hour.

If it cost a tenth as much to paint your house, you’ll simply do it more often. This same line of thinking applies to washing your car, traveling around the world, and buying designer clothes.

In a recent column I wrote titled, “The Laws of Exponential CapabilitiesI explain how every exponential decrease in effort create an equal and opposite exponential increase in capabilities. As today’s significant accomplishments become more common, mega-accomplishments will take their place, and we need to set our sights on far more of tomorrow’s “mega-accomplishments.”

It is simply not possible to run out of work to do in the world. But whether or not there will be a job tied to the work that needs to be done is another matter entirely.