occupations by disrupted by ai The Ontario Society of Professional EngineersArtificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to improve standards of living and economic efficiency significantly. For an AI to perform complex human tasks, it must recognize voices, analyze data, and make decisions based on information available to it. When capable of learning and acting appropriately, AI can eliminate human errors in judgment that lead to poor outcomes and other mistakes. 


Robotics and software also reduce the need for workers to be exposed to environmental hazards, reducing workplace injuries. However, as technology advances, the probability that the integration of AI systems into industry will displace labour increases. 


Engineers generate wealth by finding new solutions to complex problems, creating jobs in the process. This includes workforce recovery following economic slowdowns, where new infrastructure is needed to increase employment opportunities.


Automation and the Future of Human Employment

In 2019, a Brookings Institution study sought to determine the exposure levels of different jobs to replacement by AI. Using a technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb, Brookings looked at AI-related patents and how they match job descriptions. 


Some of the key findings of the report are that “AI could affect work in virtually every occupational group”; white-collar positions in management and analysis are among the “most exposed to AI,” meaning they are most vulnerable to being replaced by robots or software systems. The business, finance, and technology industries are particularly susceptible.


As a result, future job prospects will depend, in part, on how easily the duties can be performed by a machine or software system. Based on these principles, these ten occupations are most likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence in the future. 

Human Resources/Recruitment

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software is widely used in most American corporations’ human resources (HR) departments. ATS software often uses artificial intelligence to scan job applicants’ resumes, screening them for relevant skills or keywords that match the job description to determine eligibility. It’s possible that, in addition to screening applicants, AI will also conduct the interview process in the future. 

Doctors and Surgeons

In areas where access to doctors and surgeons is limited, robots could perform complex surgical operations under the remote supervision of a human doctor. However, as AI advances, it may displace human surgeons in the performance of these duties. By feeding artificial intelligence data regarding disease symptoms, AI can eventually be used to diagnose patients accurately, improving global healthcare systems.

Customer Service

Increasingly, private companies and government agencies rely on artificial intelligence to manage customer complaints and inquiries, reducing the need for human customer service representatives. While a human representative is often still necessary for complex questions and specific-use cases, AI can determine the urgency of a customer’s needs via email or chat messages, directing them to online resources where applicable. 


However, many companies still prefer to provide customers with a personalized service experience via human operators, even when AI could be implemented. 


As digital technology advances, student-directed learning has only become more viable. AI can guide students toward specific educational goals and devise individualized curricula, customizing the lesson plan to suit each student’s specific requirements. 


AI can also adapt to different educational methodologies, depending on the algorithm.


Legal Counsel

For an AI to perform the services of an attorney, it would need to incorporate historical data and information regarding case law, legal procedures and doctrines, criminal records, and evidentiary analysis to either prosecute or provide a defence. 


While the automation of some legal services, such as the drafting of contracts, has already occurred, determining guilt or innocence and convincing a judge and jury of either requires a more complex skillset.

Investment Analysts

Machine learning Investment analysis allows artificial intelligence systems to leverage one of their technological strengths. Whereas services that require human interaction and empathy can be inherently difficult for AI to perform, analyzing data and making decisions based on that data are what AI systems are designed to do. 


Using analytics software and analyzing dynamic data in real-time, AI can conduct risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses in a fraction of the time a human investment analyst or fund manager would require. 

Business Management

The role of managers in a corporate setting is also amenable to automation. Analyzing performance metrics, market conditions, and other dynamic information, an AI can allocate resources to different departments, adjust marketing strategies to appeal to specific demographics, and identify and address redundancies or inefficiencies.


Travel Agents

AI can provide personalized travel recommendations based on various criteria that a traveller inputs, from amenities and food preferences to sight-seeing requirements. The size of the group and its composition, for example, ages and personal interests, will also factor into the AI’s suggested itinerary. 

Research & Development

Artificial intelligence systems are best suited for analyzing complex data, identifying patterns, and determining the most efficient course of action regarding the development of a new product or service. 


In the context of academic research, scientists are increasingly automating data analysis, especially regarding statistics.


Mental Health Services

In some countries, mental health services, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are delivered, where possible, via automated online systems. Mobile apps also use artificial intelligence to respond to users seeking feedback regarding depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. 


While AI can provide a sufficient level of care for some clients, many still require face-to-face communication for the best results, especially because psychotherapists require a high level of emotional intelligence to make breakthroughs. However, an AI can provide remote, supplemental support for some patients.


Engineering Associations

Professional engineering associations, such as the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), will continue to provide information on careers in the digital economy, ensuring your future is secure. 


From ethics in engineering to licensing and accreditation, professional associations and the wider engineering community are valuable resources to senior and junior engineers


Contact OSPE to find out how you can join the organization driving innovation + entrepreneurship in the engineering disciplines and working to foster multidisciplinary collaboration.