It is inevitable that a certain number of jobs are going to be lost to artificial intelligence. However, it is also clear that a lot of other jobs are going to be created as new roles around AI emerge. Instead of insisting on the fact that certain jobs will go away, it would probably be more accurate to describe the employment market as one in which the roles and type of work we do is changing dramatically.

Impact Of AI

As industrialization took hold in the 19th and 20th century we lost some jobs but created many more. The simplest and modest repetitive work was the easiest to automate. That is why framing, which once required 70 percent of the US labor force 200 years ago now only needs one percent. The 69 percent of displaced workers simply either adapted into other lower skill work, like fast food and retail, for example. However these are now in danger of becoming automated in places like WalMart and McDonald's, who plans to begin piloting automated stores and restaurants.

Joshua Watson is the founder and CEO of Lake Wales, Florida-based IronRock Software, which specializes in database software for the legal industry. He points out that low skill, repetitive work will continue to face the brunt of the blow from automation and AI in the next 10 to 20 years. However, if computing continues the way it is going and the breakthroughs in quantum computing continue, we may see computing power in 30 to 40 years offering simulated intelligence on par with full human intelligence. “AI will continue to travel up the skills ladder and perhaps in 20 years eat middle tier jobs like bookkeeper, paralegal, and other office administrative type work. Simple AI could be using natural language processing and forms processing in 10 years to remove the need for tax preparers and even some accountants,” he says.

AI is already diagnosing patients with IBM's Watson and could be doing the diagnostic work of a physician in 40 years and while these jobs are unlikely to disappear entirely you could see one professional doing the work that previously took 5 to do before the augmentation of AI and automation. The replacement of jobs, he added, will happen in three phases:

  • First wave (already happening): Low skill fast food, retail, agriculture and warehousing
  • Second wave (next 10 years): Low-medium skill such as trucking and manufacturing, repetitive office work such as clerical, filing, document preparation and indexing.
  • Advanced (30-40 years): Higher skill work as computing power meets parity with the power of the human brain but with access to nearly limitless information.

Related Story: Why the Benefits of Artificial Intelligence Outweigh the Risks

Tipping Point Approaches

A study carried out by Deloitte, a UK-incorporated global firm providing multi-industry professional services, into the legal profession and the use of AI, concluded that the tipping point when entire professions will start to change radically because of AI will happen in 2020. By 2025 the legal industry will have been transformed with major changes in workforce demographics and customers looking for better value for money as they become aware of the possibilities offered by AI. But legal is not the only industry, or jobs. Here are seven positions that are likely to change in the next five years.

1. Lawyers

Marc Lamber is a partner with Phoenix, Arizona-based Fennemore Craig, one of the top 200 legal firms in the US.. At present, he says, attorneys often need to find information in a world of data by sifting for a conclusive insight through thousands of pages, if not more, of text from related cases and from various legal and specialty treatises. AI helps to reduce this tedious work by crushing information into more manageable bundles and doing away with the need for researchers. “In the long-term, we'll undoubtedly see fewer legal professionals as AI reduces the amount of people needed in law firms along with the associated costs. I also believe that it will allow lawyers to practice in many more specialty areas, which is extremely exciting, as AI will allow brilliant legal minds to now be well-versed in many more subject areas," says Lamber.

2. Transport

Some of the first jobs that will be lost to AI include taxi drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers. As autonomous vehicles become a reality, it only makes sense for the drivers to be replaced. “I think food delivery drivers will be replaced by large chain restaurants as well. Ford and Domino's are already testing it out in one city. Customers can track the vehicle with Domino's app and receive a text when the car is near. Customers will also receive a code to retrieve their pizza from the Heatwave Compartment in the car,” says Alex Lauderdale, transportation analyst at

3. Human Resources

Jonathan Duarte is founder of one of the first Internet job boards,, and founder of GoHire, a startup using AI and Chabot’s to automate the recruiting and HR functions. He says AI is already having an immediate impact on recruiting. However, for now, there are few implementations and as a result, any predictions on future employee counts are simply guesses, made with no quantitative analysis.  That will change in 2018, as more systems come online. “The recruiting process for most companies, from small businesses to global enterprises, is ripe for process automation ... There are several manual steps in the process that are currently being automated using subsets of artificial intelligence; including natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. The debate in the recruiting and HR circles is whether this is true AI or not, but it is coming and coming quickly,” says Duarte.

Related Story: 8 Examples of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Workplace

Learning Opportunities

4. Customer Service

Bob Shoyhet, CFO of Somerset N.J-based Melillo Consulting, a technology solutions integrator, says that with AI small businesses will be able to operate and compete on equal footing with enterprise companies by replacing support functions with artificial intelligence. This will enable customers to ask and receive answers to their questions without human interaction. In customer service, for example, bots are able to handle simple procedures such as updating billing addresses. This frees customer service representatives to oversee more high-level tasks and inquiries that a bot would not be able to sufficiently address,” he says.

Agent-assist bots can also provide suggested responses to the human agent, cutting down on response time to improve customer satisfaction, and therefore the overall interaction.

5. IT Administrators

Bob Friday is CTO at Mist, an organization which develops self-learning networks using artificial intelligence. He says AI is making IT organizations smarter, faster, and more efficient than ever before and will be quickly placed at the core of every technology industry sector whether it be cloud, big data, analytics, networking, storage, or security. “We’ll see jobs completed faster and more efficiently with the introduction of new virtual assistants who will be able to answer questions on par with domain experts and allow users to proactively identify and fix problems and predict future events more quickly and reliable,” he says. Imagine a virtual wireless assistant that combines quality data, domain expertise and syntax (metrics, classifiers, root causes, correlations, and ranking) to provide predictive recommendations on how to avoid problems and actionable insights on how to remediate existing issues.

6. Manufacturing

Research and Markets has just released new research into AI Innovations in its Future of Manufacturing report. With the increase in the number of industrial IoT solutions and real-time data processing, predictive analytics is enabling processing of large volumes of data captured from the connected machines. The current scenario, according to the report, includes involvement of humans in making logical decisions along with low-level machine processors. The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) or cognitive intelligent systems will thus enable machines to self-detect vicissitudes in the manufacturing processes and be in-built with capabilities to respond in real time with limited need for human intervention. Mass customization, complete automation, adoption of intuitive robots, and responsive intelligent machines will be enabled by the adoption of AI technologies.

7. Business Processes

It is impossible to cover how many business processes across a wide range of verticals are going to go through the use of AI. However, Wael Elrifai, Senior Director at San Jose, Calif.-based Pentaho Enterprise Solutions, which builds a data integration and analytics platform, says that the drive to add AI will speed up as it becomes clear that  the addition of AI to business processes ultimately frees up time, expenses, and manpower to be allocated elsewhere in the organization. However, it’s inevitable that jobs will go. Here he cites the example of data scientists, who once redeployed, can add more value to the business by focusing on the data, rather than handling administrative tasks. “In general, AI will increase efficiencies and productivity within organizations by removing the burden from people when it comes to doing things like administrative tasks. At the enterprise level, AI will be especially beneficial to IoT environments, where we will see more bots and algorithms that enable edge devices to learn by themselves,” says Elrifai.