The robots are coming: “Lock up your knowledge and protect your job at all costs!” The apocalyptic warnings are starting to flow of how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics combined with other disruptive technologies could eliminate the need for humans in the workplace. Equally skeptical voices are rubbishing the idea that anything drastic will happen, citing previous industrial revolutions as proof that new jobs will emerge to fill any gaps created by the automation of existing ones. In practice, no one really knows how quickly AI might eliminate jobs or what the employment needs will be of the future businesses and industries that have not yet been born.
But the future is not black and white. Aside from the potential to take (and make) jobs, AI might also transform jobs. Below, we share a list of some critical job roles that could be transformed or eliminated completely by the use of AI and robotics over the period from 2020 to 2030. The automation of the following six jobs would bring new opportunities to the software testing world, but could also change it in other possibly in unexpected ways.
Below we elaborate about how the role of AI in reshaping work could reverberate into the IT, software, and computer security sector of the future.
Fully autonomous and remote-controlled robotic surgeons will diagnose, treat, and operate on patients in areas where there are no physical human medics available. Humans might monitor or control these robo-docs via video from central hub hospital facilities in bigger towns and cities. As a public good, the sanctity of software and computer systems upon which medical AI is based cannot be emphasised enough. Should doctors truly be replaced by Dr. Watson, AI of IBM fame, technology would literally wield power over life-or-death situations. Aside from protection from hackers, there may be special preparation companies would take to support employees working with medical tech, similar to how medical school trains doctors to deal with grave situations.
Robots could perform tasks like crowd control, and police drones could track and intercept criminals escaping from crime scenes. In a future where policing is automated, IT support would be a critical public service. Would the staff running the software support be considered peace officers? What other authority might be given to tech staff should their work coincide so closely with law enforcement? Helping municipalities secure a Robocop could become reality for software testers by 2030. Automated policing would put technology at the forefront of criminal justice and community safety — how is the industry preparing for growing responsibilities to the public sector?
A range of search, analysis, and contract drafting tasks are already being automated. Robot-lawyers are already overturning parking tickets in the UK and US. Additionally, smart policing devices and an expanding blanket of sensors will feed into AI judges where there would be little to no room for debate. Moral and ethical issues related to technology advances may become the next legal growth arena. As law becomes increasingly automated, software and security have gained emphasis in the law firm as well as in the public safety arena. Legal tech is likely to continue to grow as a subsector of law as well as IT.
Automation forecasts today are already causing anxiety and stress among perfectly healthy professionals. Should mass layoffs start, society could see mental health issues rise to crisis level. There are already strong provisions in place in most modern societies to protect medical information online. It may be possible that software and security experts will have requests in the future for new products and services to protect personal coaching and psychotherapy data from sessions conducted online. Also, with the continuous existential threat in terms of terrorist use of cyber attacks, anxiety solutions might be one of the future niches software vendors could fill.
From taxis to buses, trucks and rescue services, automated vehicles hold the promise of being inherently safer, more fuel efficient, and productive — freeing up drivers’ time. As a vehicle becomes a digitally immersed experience for the passenger, software and IT is critical to its smooth functioning and enjoyment. By 2030, hacking could be a bigger threat to personal mobility than engine problems. Certainly more so than running out of fuel!
Future generations of Siri, Cortana, and Alexa should be able to undertake personal shopping, screen incoming calls, and determine which news to show us, even determine where we dine. To be able to instill full trust in the personal services provided by AI, consumers will require robust computer security and software. Unless there is a strong basis for protecting private data, personal assistant AIs won’t overtake real-life, flesh-and-blood PAs. However, if the market presents a demand for PA services for the masses, writing the software and securing such systems could be a lucrative area in which to establish an early presence.
In addition to this list, there are a number of ways computer security firms and vendors could evolve in response to the growing use of AI in other professions. Ultimately, today’s business leaders in every sector acknowledge that the robots are coming; it is just that we don’t know where they may have their biggest impacts.
How could AI reshape the tools for software security and testing?
Does AI pose a replacement risk or enhance the software professional’s job?
Does the role of AI in software improve the product development cycle? How would it impact jobs?
About the Authors
The authors are futurists with Fast Future – a professional foresight firm specializing in delivering keynote speeches, executive education, research, and consulting on the emerging future and the impacts of change for global clients. Fast Future publishes books from leading future thinkers around the world, exploring how developments such as AI, robotics, exponential technologies, and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, societies, businesses, and governments and create the trillion-dollar sectors of the future. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future.
Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, award-winning keynote speaker, author, and the CEO of Fast Future. His prime focus is on helping clients understand and shape the emerging future by putting people at the center of the agenda. Rohit is the co-author of Designing Your Future, lead editor and a contributing author for The Future of Business, and editor of Technology vs. Humanity. He is a co-editor and contributor for the recently published Beyond Genuine Stupidity – ensuring AI serves humanity, and three forthcoming books -Future Transformations – Reimagining Life, Society, and Business, Unleashing Human Potential – the Future of AI in Business, and 50:50 – scenarios for the next 50 Years.
Steve Wells is an experienced strategist, keynote speaker, futures analyst, partnership working practitioner, and the COO of Fast Future. He has a particular interest in helping clients anticipate and respond to the disruptive bursts of technological possibility that are shaping the emerging future. Steve is a contributor to the recently published Beyond Genuine Stupidity – ensuring AI Serves Humanity, and co-editor of The Future of Business and Technology vs. Humanity. He is a co-editor and contributor to two forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business, and 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Alexandra Whittington is a futurist, writer, Foresight Director of Fast Future, and a faculty member on the Futures program at the University of Houston. She has a particular expertise in future visioning and scenario planning. Alexandra is a contributor to The Future of Business and the recently published Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity. She is also a co-editor and contributor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business, and 50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Maria Romero is a futurist and foresight researcher at Fast Future. She has worked on a range of foresight initiatives including a project for NASA’s Langley Research Center and the publication of “The Future of Student Life: Living” in On the Horizon. Maria is a co-editor and contributor to the recently published Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity and of the forthcoming book Future Transformations – Reimagining Life, Society, and Business. She is also a contributor to Unleashing Human Potential – The Future of AI in Business.