In the second machine age, robots will perform tasks once thought to require uniquely human abilities, like driving our taxis and filleting our fish. But not all jobs will be equally affected by automation. The interactive plot above attempts to sort out the differences.
We compared three variables related to the American workforce: the median wage for various jobs; the number of people employed in those positions in the United States; and the likelihood that these jobs will become automated. The data for this last metric come from a recent study, “The Future of Employment” (pdf). Use the interactive to explore which jobs are most susceptible to computerization, how many people will be affected, and how much money these workers make.
The densest cluster sits at the bottom-right, representing the massive numbers of workers in jobs that are both low-paying and highly likely to become automated. That corner is home to many occupations that are already being automated: cashier, retail salesperson, telemarketer.
But a low median wage doesn’t necessarily mean robots are set to make humans in a given job obsolete. In the bottom-left are low-income jobs that require high levels of “social intelligence” or creativity, such as coaching and photography. Computers are still hopeless at these kinds of tasks.
Filtering by job category also reveals high-level insights, separating the safe industries (computer and mathematical, healthcare practitioners, management) from those that are in danger (office and administration, sales, transportation).
True to form, chief executives come out unscathed. They sit at the extreme top and left, well paid and safe—for now—from robots.