The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is upon us, and it’s here to stay. As the world collectively marvels over the innovation that generative AI and deep learning can offer, many worry about what this means for their livelihood. Others are asking, “Will AI replace my job?”
Although we will likely see certain industries transformed by automation, jobs that require critical thinking, human judgment, subjective thinking, and decision-making will continue to rely on people. Similarly, jobs that involve nuanced communication with others and require soft social skills such as emotional intelligence and creativity are at lower risk for AI replacement.
A 2023 report on the Future of Jobs conducted by the World Economic Forum looked at the highest job growth markets over the next five years. Their findings show that industries spanning agriculture, education, manufacturing, and marketing all have opportunities for sizeable job growth and job security in the years ahead.
AI will undoubtedly change the way people work across all industries, but the ways it will impact roles will be vast. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the jobs AI will be aiding and not replacing in the immediate future. (Note: this is not a whole list—there are thousands of job types that AI isn’t expected to replace moving forward.)
According to the same study by the World Economic Forum, agricultural jobs are expected to rise 30% between 2023 and 2027, resulting in roughly 3 million additional roles. This is due to several factors:
- Generative AI cannot replace the physical manpower needed in these roles
- Agricultural supply chains are shortening with direct-to-consumer selling
- The rise in agricultural technologies to combat climate change
Both vocational and higher education jobs are expected to grow 10% in the next five years, resulting in another 3 million educator roles. The reason for this growth is due to the soft skills required for educators that don’t translate well to generative AI. This includes empathy, leadership skills, social influence, active listening, and people management spanning from admin, parents, and students. These highly human skills ensure that students learn more than just the academic material at hand and grow into well-rounded individuals.
AI can automate many corporate roles, but human resources departments will always need a human with empathy and interpersonal skills to navigate employee relations. AI is being introduced alongside HR processes to assist in repetitive processes, but the number of human skills needed to recruit, onboard, train, and oversee staff is incredibly hard to transfer to a machine.
Lawyers and Judges
Would you feel comfortable having an AI robot represent you as your attorney?
AI can be trained on laws, but it cannot possess the emotional intelligence to reason, argue, and persuade people the way that attorneys need to. AI may be able to support lawyers in drafting documents or completing redundant, repetitive tasks, but people are necessary to review content and ensure the laws are upheld. Additionally, law positions require strong negotiation, strategy, and critical thinking skills to navigate complex legal systems and ensure that their client’s best interest is at heart.
Government Workers and Politicians
A major difference between AI algorithms and human cognition is our ability to problem-solve for unforeseen circumstances. As any government worker or politician knows, unexpected situations arise daily, and it takes creative reasoning, compassion, and teamwork to address government issues that arise. The need for government work is expected to rise over the next decade, and it’s an industry with many jobs that AI won’t replace.
Psychiatrists and Psychologists
A recent Biden Administration announcement takes aim at the growing mental health crisis in the United States. As of 2021, 40% of Americans reported anxiety and depression, and 44% of high school students reported persistent feelings of hopelessness. These staggering numbers are a reminder that the human condition is complex, and we need trained professionals to address the issue head-on. As of May 2023, $280 million in funding is going toward growing the pipeline of mental health professionals—especially in school settings—with the hope of increasing the size and diversity of behavioral health staff.
Face recognition technology is being developed to introduce AI counseling care, but given the delicate nature of mental health, many feel that a human touch will always remain essential.
Medical Staff (Doctors, Physicians, Nurses, Dentists)
Healthcare technology has advanced exponentially to support the accurate detection and diagnosis of medical conditions. While medical staff will continue to redefine how they use AI in their roles, they don’t need to fear their jobs disappearing due to AI.
Outside of the knowledge medical staff possess, their bedside manner and patient-facing care cannot compare to what AI would offer. Nurses can comfort a nervous patient, have difficult discussions with family members, and provide attend to patient needs in ways that robots can’t mimic. Similarly, doctors and dentists are better equipped to navigate unexpected situations than an AI algorithm that is trained for predictability.
Many organizations saw AI as an opportunity to automate quality assurance and audits. In fact, the limitations of AI give human auditors an advantage. AI is only as smart as the information it’s trained on, so if data inputs for an organization are messy or incomplete, the AI will produce inaccurate audit results. Similarly, not all warning signs or inaccuracies can be spotted by audit numbers alone. Most auditors will attest that interpersonal information, such as nonverbal cues or company culture, can play a role in an audit’s results and requires humans to think outside the box.
Trade Workers (Plumbers, Carpenters, Construction)
Contractors and trade workers offer slightly different skills than the “soft skills” required in most corporate jobs. Instead, what electricians and plumbers offer beyond AI is dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility to work across a variety of job settings.
AI simply cannot account for the variety of environments and situations that manual labor jobs face, especially when working inside client homes or corporate office campuses. The amount of adaptability and problem-solving required will help ensure that trade and manual labor jobs are secure for the foreseeable future.
Artists and Writers
Many creatives worry about the future of their roles with the rise of AI-generated art and ChatGPT. Although AI will play a role in shifting how artists and creatives find work, it will not replace these professions completely. As mentioned previously, AI lacks complex creativity and therefore cannot produce a unique idea out of thin air.
Humans have a unique ability to create something from nothing, whereas AI requires training on a topic and can only create art within the confines of what it knows. True, you may be able to ask AI to generate a unique image of the Mona Lisa eating french fries on the Great Wall of China, but that is only because AI has been taught that those people and places exist. A human artist and writer can work outside of the confines of what we can see and hear to express new emotions and create innovative ideas that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
The Future of AI and Work Is Togetherness
The impact of AI on job survival is a complex issue that differs across industries, types of work, and the level of human skills requires. AI will likely continue to embed itself into our working world, but rest assured that many professional jobs are still looking for human labor and thinking. And many feel that the future of AI should center on how AI can improve efficiencies and discoveries with humans—not instead of them.