AI experts have revealed the key industries that are safest from being replaced by automated technology – as some Aussie workers find their jobs are already redundant.
Nick Lothian, head of product at Verida, and Tom Finnigan, co-founder of Friyay.ai, revealed the eight jobs with the best odds of withstanding the growing use of artificial intelligence, or AI.
While repetitious and predictable jobs are already being replaced by the technology, those roles reliant on ‘soft skills’ and face-to-face interactions will prove more resilient in the face of the change.
A 2023 survey found that one third of small businesses have replaced some of their workforce with AI and another 56 per cent are unsure how it will affect them.
Another study revealed that 67 per cent of workers are already using the technology in their workplaces without their bosses knowing.
AI experts Nick Lothian, head of product at Verida, and Tom Finnigan, co-founder of Friyay.ai, told Daily Mail Australia that some jobs are more likely to survive AI than others
Adaptable employees who use interpersonal skills at work are going to be hard for AI to replace but positions relying on data input will be quickly rendered useless, according to the experts.
Jobs with learned skills that require specific input from the customer are likely to withstand the ‘tsunami’ of AI that will re-invent the workplace with 10 years.
Mr Finnigan said that the more educated workers are about the new technology, the better prepared they will be to adapt and manage it.
‘Most people are at risk from AI because they’re not aware of what’s coming to them,’ he said.
‘And so does that mean that AI’s impact on businesses will be like a tsunami? Yeah.’
Plumbers, carpenters and tradesmen need to be physically present on the job and often need to communicate back-and-forth with clients to get the job done – meaning they are less likely to be impacted by AI
Plumbers and carpenters
Because of the hands-on work that tradesmen engage in, Mr Lothian said that their work was safe for years to come.
‘I don’t see plumbers being replaced quickly by AI, and same with carpenters and all those tradie-type jobs where you’re actually talking to the client,’ Mr Lothian said.
‘That’s something that’s going to be really hard to automate for a long time, particularly if you’re doing the tools work yourself as well.’
Plumbers for instance rely on a large degree of communication with their client and are required to know exactly how to solve issues that range from complex to minor.
Human ingenuity and creativity are going to be one of the most difficult grounds for AI to comprehend, both experts agreed.
Mr Finnigan spent 26 years in broadcast television before becoming a branding marketer and AI expert and he said that he has yet to find a competent AI video editor
Photographers, videographers and content editors
Mr Finnigan spent 26 years in broadcast television before moving into marketing and branding, then co-founding his own AI company.
He also practised photography, observing that automated programs are still way off being able to replicate what he is able to produce.
‘As a cinematographer, in all of my years, I haven’t found anything that’s helping me with video editing. There’s nothing,’ he said.
‘And I don’t like what it does with photography, but that may be just a personal choice.
‘But at the end of the day, I still can’t get away from having to invest a lot of creative time into thinking about how I build my ads and AI won’t solve those problems for a while.’
Lawyers area a great example of where AI can enhance a job rather than replace it, as it is able to compile notes and create summaries much faster than humans
Mr Finnigan described AI as like ‘having a staff of four-or-five people’ per program with a drawback being that the technology is limited to the concise directions and inputs its user provides.
For law firms, where a raft of interns and associates would file and process paperwork, AI is already reducing the workload astronomically while still necessitating the need for human refinement.
‘Most businesses are going to see a tool like this as reducing headcounts, reducing costs. However, the real advantage lies with the businesses that choose to find the people with that to build over the top of it,’ Mr Finnigan said.
‘Suddenly your interns are more valuable now because humans can do things that AI can’t do logically and otherwise.’
Mr Lothian agreed with this assessment, while adding that it is still too early to tell how legal eagles will build the technology into their professions.
‘Lawyers always needs to be on the ground talking to clients but they also traditionally have to read an awful lot of information, and then generate shorter summaries. That type of work can easily be automated,’ he said.
‘So I’m not sure about how this plays out longer term, like whether it means less lawyers or if it means that they work on different types of tasks but it’s definitely going to change pretty quickly.
‘So there is some risks there to employment but that may actually end up meaning that the sector can grow because those higher level tasks are much cheaper and easier to get into more industries.
‘At the moment it’s very expensive to get a high-level lawyer but if they’re able to serve a lot more clients at once, perhaps it becomes cheaper.’
Consultants, similar to lawyers, handle a lot of paperwork but still need to be present for their clients and understanding of their individual needs
Similar to the way that lawyers can ‘build over the top’ of their businesses with AI, consultants can also enjoy a new degree of efficiency in their jobs.
Mr Lothian already considers parts of consultancy work as redundant, including creating spreadsheets and crunching numbers.
Their soft skills, however, are much harder to replicate as they jump from client to client and often venture into vastly different industries.
‘The more white collar spaces – consultant type roles where you’re face to face with people when you’re presenting work – need a human behind the wheel,’ he said.
‘When they are trying to understand a client’s problems and present solutions to them directly, people want to deal with people, particularly when they’re paying a lot of money for it.
‘So those types of skills continue to be valuable and increasingly so…’
Masseuses naturally require a lot of hands-on work that an AI cannot replicate but Mr Finnigan said AI can still help fill bookings while the workers tend to clients
The physical touch of a masseuse is unlikely to ever be replicated by a machine, and professionals again need to accommodate their clients’ specific needs for each massage.
But taking bookings is obviously an aspect where AI comes in to complement the work rather than replace it.
‘A massage business asked me what I could do for them,’ Mr Finnigan said.
‘I said, “Well, we could look through your client book and then when we come up to an area of low-bookings, AI could identify those people and send them a lovely personalised letter based on their booking history to see if they’d like a similar one”.
‘This does not require the employment of a single extra person and only takes an investment of $50,000 and that parlour has filled their calendar for the year,’ Mr Finnigan said.
Despite Stephen King worrying that AI is going to destroy creativity, Mr Finnigan said that it can kick-start it by producing a draft which is then refined by its creator
Creative and critical writers (Authors/Journalists)
Writers and creators often harbour the most anxiety over the longevity of their careers as AI gets smarter and faster but Mr Finnigan insisted that computers will never replace the originality of humans.
‘Ten great minds in a room come up with amazing creative solutions but 10 AI personalities simply can’t get anywhere (near that) yet,’ he said.
‘I constantly see Stephen Fry talking about AI getting rid of creativity.
‘What they’re talking about is that they used to have a staff of 10 writers or 20 writers and now this simply isn’t the economy anymore.
‘Creatives always have the final approval so what you end up with is human creativity assisted by AI drafting. Basically everyone is given superpowers.’
For journalists who report facts, Mr Finnigan reinforced the idea of incorporating the technology to enhance the output.
By feeding an AI the relevant information and structure of a story, a journalist could receive back a draft within minutes instead of working on it themselves for hours.
‘Imagine if you then spent the four hours you would have spent writing it drafting and editing instead, the quality of that piece is vastly improved,’ Mr Finnigan added.
‘Alternately if you only wanted to spend an hour editing you would increase your output by a factor of four in the same amount of time,’ Mr Finnigan said.