Jobs That Robots Can Never Do

Popular culture is filled with images of machines gone wild - one need look no further than the blockbuster films 'Terminator' or 'The Matrix' to see striking visual representation of humanity's fear of being replaced. But more and more, those stories are creeping into actual news; consider the recent announcement that Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to replace a number of its workers with robots to abate stressful working conditions. What jobs are left for humans? Schools offering Computer & Electronics Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


When it comes to technology, a good rule is 'never say never.' Truthfully, it's hard to imagine almost any job that a robot couldn't perform… or at least attempt to. However, given not just the limits of our current technology but also a fair guess at its boundaries for the foreseeable future, it seems there will always be some jobs that robots won't be able to replicate quite to our satisfaction.

Spark of Creativity

Let's start with any jobs that require creativity, maybe the most obvious category here. Machines, as we use them now, do not create things except to our specifications. They can take in and perform calculations with nearly infinite data that already exists, but they're not going to get anything new out of that data unless they're guided by a human hand. That's because creativity requires imagination, something it's tough to believe robots would ever possess. After all, if machines can only process what they know (and so far, that seems to be their limit), how could they imagine what they don't?

Therefore, in an almost humorous role-reversal, the jobs that some consider the most impractical - those in the arts - are probably the most secure from any robot revolution. Can a robot be a writer? Sure, they can put words together, but not with the soulful poetry found in the best authors. Can a robot be a musician? Again, the process of playing musical notes could be automated, but not the passion or creative process behind it. Could a robot then be a painter? It seems unlikely.

Additionally, if you consider academia to be a world where creativity blossoms, robots would be barred from holding any type of high professorial jobs. Philosophers, engineers and others in the world of higher education are creative by nature, building new frameworks to shape society out of what's already available. Those who master their disciplines are by nature always working on something new and revolutionary, while robots toil away on the familiar and day-to-day.

Physician, Do Not Heal Thyself

Speaking of engineers, it seems unlikely that machines could ever totally eclipse the jobs of those in the information technology (IT) profession. After all, someone has to design, build and repair new and current robotics. Though the question of whether or not we could design a machine that could sire its own offspring (constructing them out of spare parts, perhaps) is surely one which keeps some awake at night, it seems almost improbable to think that machines could become an infinitely self-replicating and repairing group. Of course, that's exactly the premise behind The Matrix, and if it does happen, those robotic oppressors who work in IT will probably be the first to be punished, but right now that scenario seems like purely the stuff of science fiction.

Whatever Happened to Customer Service?

One might imagine that certain service industry jobs will always remain safe. Yes, often times these are probably pretty easy to replace (self check-out machines and Redbox DVD outlets come to mind), but some people just appreciate good customer service, which means dealing with another human being who has a smile on his or her face. One might imagine these jobs going the way of vinyl records - they become something prized not out of necessity but of quaintness; people will choose to be helped by other people for the experience of it, because it reminds them of a simpler time. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but does it really seem so outlandish to suggest that in, say, 50 years, fast food service will be completely automated, while upscale bistros still employ a wait staff because it's an interesting and classy thing to do?

Person to Person

Finally, those jobs exist that will seem to always require the close personal interaction of one individual with another. Counselors or psychiatrists, for instance, cannot simply diagnose patients' woes by hearing a list of facts and coming to a calculated conclusion. They must spend time with each individual and make assessments based on subtle observations and thorough consideration. Even if a machine could possibly be programmed to take in all the necessary data to make proper case-by-case diagnoses, these sensitive areas seem like places where it's the most important for people to have a friendly, sympathetic face to speak with.

If you're into computers but don't want to start the robot revolution quite yet, here are ten high-paying jobs for you to consider.

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