If you have plans to become a telemarketer, librarian, clerk or referee, you might want to reconsider – or at least, get on board with working alongside R2D2 and C3PO.
According to an Oxford University report, these are among the professions most susceptible to being replaced by computers and robots.
A study by Oxford’s Engineering Sciences Department assessed 702 jobs based on required education and the job’s ability to be automated, for a ranking of workers most easily able to be computerised.
The news is not good for telemarketers, title examiners, hand sewers or mathematical technicians: they fill out the top end of the list.
Watch repairers, data entry operators, tax preparers and referees also pop up in the top 20.
But Farmborough Heights watch repairer Alan Martin takes issue with his profession being on the list.
“There’s no way a robot could have the finesse of a human. The job needs precision, a gentle touch. I don’t know how a robot could be created to have that feel,” Mr Martin said.
Shellharbour watch repairer Michael Barrett agrees, saying the maintenance of intricate watches is a job only a human could do.
“The big watch makers use robots to assemble watches, but to repair them, you need to identify the worn parts,” he said.
“It’s about a human-judgment call in replacing the parts, adjusting the machinery. It needs that human judgment.”
The study also found the job most safe from robot takeover is recreational therapy, while other safe bets include audiologists, emergency management directors and healthcare social workers. The second safest job is supervision of mechanics, repairers and installers – presumably to make sure the robots taking over everyone else’s jobs run smoothly and don’t attempt a Terminator or Matrix-style global revolution.
Steve Brown, vice-president of the Country Rugby League’s referees’ association, is not too worried about C3PO taking over his job.
“A human has empathy for the game and players. A human referee understands frustration and a computer won’t,” he said.
“Computers don’t have empathy with situations during a game. The most successful refs are ones that can adjust their style depending on how the game is flowing.
“Plus, I don’t think people would like it, because you don’t get as much satisfaction in abusing a robot as you would get abusing a human referee.”
Representatives for Astroboy and Transformers did not respond by press time.