LIS News linked to this study of the potential computerization of jobs. With a lot of math and stuff, the authors tried to determine the likelihood that 702 jobs now done by humans could be replaced by computers in the near future.
Some jobs are pretty safe. Apparently, if you’re a recreational therapist or an emergency management director, the chance of your job being replaced by a computer is small. On the other hand, if you’re a watch repairer or a telemarketer, you should probably find other work.
If you’re a telemarketer, find other work anyway because you’re annoying.
The authors conclude that up to 47% of the occupations they studies were in danger of being replaced by computers.
How do libraries fare? Librarians are pretty much in the middle of the pack, ranked #360, with a 0.65 chance of getting replaced by computers. The closer the number is to 0, the lesser your chances, the closer to 1 the greater your chances.
Considering that “librarian” covers a lot of ground, there’s probably some major differences. If you’re a library director or you work with people a lot, you’re probably safe, at least safer than catalogers.
They find evidence that “wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with the probability of computerisation.” That’s probably good news for some of the relatively well paid and educated academic librarians out there.
Jobs that require a high degree of social intelligence are probably safe as well. There must be some librarian jobs that require that, although social intelligence, whatever that is, probably isn’t high on the list of average librarian attributes.
Other library workers might not fare so well. “Library Assistants, Clerical” is at #616 of 702, and “Library Technicians” are at #692, with a 0.99 chance of being computerized. That’s a pretty good chance.
Last week there was news about librarianless libraries, but maybe the libraries will have only librarians, the handful with the right pay, education, and social intelligence. Everyone else will be replaced with a computer, except maybe “Janitors and Cleaners,” who rank pretty close to Librarians, unless they’re all be replaced by Roombas with AI brains.
The future’s not looking too bright for a lot of people, though. Supposedly the computer revolution of the 20th century took away a lot of middle income jobs, but the new trend will be to take away low-wage and low-skill jobs.
The conclusion is either a gesture of concern or a sick joke: “Our ﬁndings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerisation – i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”
How that is to be accomplished isn’t within the scope of the article, but it most likely won’t happen. If the low-wage and low-skill workers today had more creative and social skills, they probably wouldn’t be working those jobs in the first place. People generally don’t work low-skill service jobs just for the heck of it.
As for educational level, 25% of Americans never graduate from high school, 7% receive neither a high school diploma or the GED equivalent, and 66.5% of Americans aged 25-29 don’t have a bachelor’s degree. That percentage rises for both older and black and Hispanic Americans.
That’s hardly our concern, right? Well, maybe it can be. One library is trying to make a difference. The Los Angeles Public Library is creating a program to help people get high school diplomas. With the public school graduation rate at 66%, every little bit helps.
Maybe those jobs will be harder to computerize.