That formula has proven to be remarkably accurate, not only as applied to components/transistors on circuit boards, but also to hard disk capacity, network capacity, pixels per dollar, and processor speed.
What does this have to do with careers to avoid?
Right from the beginning, software programmers looked for tasks that could be more efficiently handled by computer programs. One of the first mass distributed programs came inside electronic calculators. The Texas Instruments SR-50, introduced in 1973, sent the slide rule to take its place next to the abacus in the
No one ever had a career as a slide rule operator, so the advance of technology didn’t appear too threatening to anyone’s livelihood. In fact, it seemed destined only to enhance productivity.
All was well with job security until the 1990’s when a little known experimental communications network left the confines of the government and academic worlds and entered the commercial market. Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn had coined this network “the Internet” back in the 70’s, probably not anticipating that one day we’d be speaking with customer services reps in India to troubleshoot our GPS gadgets.
Moore’s Law, as applied to network capacity (aka bandwidth), proved to be quite accurate in the fifteen or so years since the Internet gained widespread commercial use. The Internet has provided a platform on which complex applications reside and huge amounts of data are stored and shared. It is now possible to relocate certain types of jobs and completely replace others through the power of the programs and “data pipes” that the Internet brings to us.
Here is my list of ten jobs already threatened or soon to be threatened by globalization created by the Internet and its ability to process and move information from one point to another.
Just about any job that can be reduced to a set of rules is subject to being replaced by computer programs and robots. Travel agents are a dying breed and those agencies that still exist in their traditional format will disappear as their clientele ages. Younger people don’t think twice about making reservations online. Some travel agents may survive to serve a few wealthy clients, but as a career, it’s all but gone.
The few telephone operators that are left mainly deal with 4-1-1 calls. Automated systems using voice recognition will soon replace the last of them. Most telephone answering receptionists have already been replaced with the dreaded “automated attendant.” The rest of them, whose physical presence is necessary to greet customers, will be required to carry a full load of other secretarial and professional tasks.
Movie rental store franchisee
Blockbuster announced last week that they’re closing 960 stores and replacing them with about 10,000 movie rental kiosks. Don’t think that a franchise based on owning and restocking video rental kiosks is the next big thing, however. Bandwidth sufficient for delivering movies via the Internet and television cable systems exists today. The kiosks will quickly end up in a junkyard next to the Space Invaders arcade machines.
One word: ebay.
TV news cameraperson
Dwindling advertising revenues are forcing the news arms of national and local television stations to take a critical look at their business models. One area of cost savings already being implemented by news directors is reconfiguring news crews. WUSA Channel 9 in
Customer service rep
Which country has the greatest number of English speaking citizens?
Any job that involves matching a need to a solution is subject to automation. Travel agents are a good example. So are relationship matchmakers (see eHarmony.com). Recruiting freelance nurses for temporary hospital positions has been automated by Aizling.com using an approach modeled on airline reservation systems and the positive/negative feedback feature of ebay and other auctions sites.
Monster.com and several other major job sites have proven effective at marrying the demand and supply of job makers and job hunters. There will continue to be positions within human resources departments to wade through the résumés generated by these websites, but independent recruiters’ ranks will shrink to a paltry few serving those in highly specialized careers.
This one is a little farther out on the timeline, partly because of the complexities of the insurance industry and partly because of some states’ laws that prohibit consumers from acquiring insurance directly. Nonetheless, like several previous examples, it is a job that can be reduced to a set of rules, however complex, and therefore will eventually be replaced with automated applications.
Court reporter/Medical records transcriber
Voice recognition software is getting better all the time. Still not up to Arthur C. Clark’s and Stanley Kubrick’s vision of the computer HAL 9000 (a one-letter alphabetical shift from IBM) in 2001: A Space Odyssey, advances in computing power are critical to allow these massive voice imaging applications to run on everyday computers. Given another decade or so, the jobs of court reporting and medical records transcribing will be as rare as hens’ teeth.
This last job is really motherhood and apple pie which, unfortunately, doesn’t make it immune from a technology takeover.
WANTED: Librarian for prestigious
Copyright 2009 Randy Hunt