Why our fears of job-killing robots are overblown


The more general point is that computer algorithms will have a devil of a time predicting which jobs are most at risk for being replaced by computers, since they have no comprehension of the skills required to do a particular job successfully. In one study that was widely covered (including by The Washington Post, The Economist, Ars Technica, and The Verge), Oxford University researchers used the U.S. Department of Labor's O NET database, which assesses the importance of various skill competencies for hundreds of occupations. For example, using a scale of 0 to 100, O*NET gauges finger dexterity to be more important for dentists (81) than for locksmiths (72) or barbers (60). The Oxford researchers then coded each of 70 occupations as either automatable or not and correlated these yes/no assessments with O*NET's scores for nine skill categories. Using these statistical correlations, the researchers then estimated the probability of computerization for 702 occupations.

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