The chances you will lose your job to a robot are growing

ASIMO is a humanoid robot designed by Honda. ASIMO could take your conducting job.
ASIMO is a humanoid robot designed by Honda. ASIMO could take your conducting job.
Credit user: Vanillase / Wikimedia Commons

A recent Oxford University report estimates that robots could replace nearly half of the current U.S. workforce.

The report found that office administrators, sales personnel, and those in the service industry are among those at risk of losing their jobs to robots.

Robots have become common in many workplaces since General Motors installed the first robot at a plant in New Jersey in 1961 ("Unimate," as it was called, could weld and move parts that weighed up to 500 pounds).

So can humans keep up, or at least keep ahead of the technology that is changing the workforce?

These are especially important questions here in Michigan, with its historic ties to the auto industry that makes up about 40% of the global supply of industrial robots. 

Stephen Spurr, Chair of the Department of Economics and professor at Wayne State University, joined us today to explore the possibilities (You can listen to our interview with Spurr above.)

Industrial jobs aren't the only ones robots are taking over.

NBC News created a list of nine jobs humans could lose to robots. On the list are pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, drivers, soldiers, astronauts, and in one Japanese store, babysitters

In Britain people are feeling the pressure of the robotic takeover.

According to The Telegraph, a poll found that nearly one third of Britons believed they will soon be replaced in their jobs by robots.

And the poll found "jobs" in the bedroom too could be at risk too. Seventeen percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to have sex with a robot, and 29% saying they saw no problem with others having sex with robots.

In his piece "What jobs will the robots take," the Atlantic's Derek Thompson broke down which professions are most likely to lose their jobs, and those that are least likely.

Among those jobs that have the highest risk of losing their job to a robot:

  • Telemarketers
  • Tax preparers
  • Title examiners
  • Watch repairers

And among those least at risk of losing their job to a robot:

  • Oral surgeons
  • Social workers
  • Firefighters

The Flight of the Conchords has this music video of what the future may look like:

Will the world be very different after the robotic uprising? Affirmative.

–Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom