Complex Made Simple

What are the 10 Jobs that are safe from smart automation?

Arguments are flowing back and forth about the threat of artificial intelligence and automation to jobs in nearly every industry.

AI expert and the former president of Google in China, Kai-Fu Lee, says that there are a few jobs that will remain irreplaceable.

Lee says AI already powers many of our apps and websites and that, in the not so distant future, AI will also be operating our cars, managing our work portfolios, and manufacturing the things we buy.

“As I point out in my new book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, about 50% of our jobs will, in fact, be taken over by AI and automation within the next 15 years,” Lee announces.

“Accountants, factory workers, truckers, paralegals, and radiologists—just to name a few—will be confronted by a disruption akin to that faced by farmers during the industrial revolution.”

But he also says there are still many important jobs that will be safe from AI infiltration.

Read: Half of CIOs planning to deploy Artificial Intelligence  

Lee’s list of 10 professions safe from AI the next 15 years.  


Psychiatry, social work, and marriage counseling are all professions that require strong communication skills, empathy, and the ability to win trust from clients.


Dexterity is a challenge for AI. Physical therapy, as well as chiropractic and massage therapy, involves applying very delicate pressures with our hands and being able to detect minute responses from a client’s body

3-Medical care

Healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses will still be necessary to carry out the features of care fueled by compassion, support, and encouragement.

VIDEO: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not so smart and here’s why

4-AI-related research and engineering

As AI grows, there will naturally be a jump in the number of AI professionals. Gartner Research Company estimates that in the next few years, these increases will outnumber the jobs replaced.

5- Fiction writing

Storytelling requires one of the highest levels of creativity and one which AI will have difficulty emulating.


Teaching will still need to be oriented around helping students figure out their interests, teaching students to learn independently, and providing one-on-one mentorship.

7-Criminal defense law

Reasoning across domains, winning the trust of clients, applying years of experience in the courtroom, and having the ability to persuade a jury are all examples of the cognitive complexities, strategies, and modes of human interaction that are beyond the capabilities of AI.

Watch: Revolutionary Artificial Intelligence from Saal: Re-imagine how you live

8-Computer science and engineering

A McKinsey report shows that the number of engineering professionals like computer scientists, engineers, IT administrators, IT workers, and tech consulters will increase by 20 million to 50 million globally by 2030.


Science is the ultimate profession of human creativity.


Good managers have essential human interaction skills including the abilities to motivate, negotiate, and persuade, while also establishing a strong workplace culture and value system through their actions and words. Not AI strengths.

Read: Training ‘Artificial Intelligence’ against cyberbullying

LinkedIn Opinions

Sara Castellanos Reporter at The Wall Street Journal writes: “The use of robots at HSBC Bank USA, N.A.’s flagship branch in New York has improved customer service without the loss of jobs often associated with automation and artificial intelligence, quoting Jeremy Balkin, the bank’s head of innovation. Average daily foot traffic has increased an estimated 5 times since the addition in June of two customer-service focused human-like robots programmed to greet customers and educate them about HSBC products.

JT Kostman, Ph.D., Leader of Applied Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology at Grant Thornton said: “The probability that some types of accounting, auditing, and tax jobs will be automated in the next decade is 100%. The repetitive work of auditing is well-suited to robots. Large swaths of audit and advisory work can be replaced by smart algorithms and cognitive artificial intelligence.”

“…but there will still be plenty of work for accountants, auditors, and tax advisors who perform aspects of that work that require uniquely human capabilities: Perspective, discernment, judgment, sagacity, wisdom…”

Read: Can Artificial Intelligence make governments more efficient?

Abhinav Shashank, a tech writer, says automation brought a boom in, say, the automobile industry because it was able to drive up the operational efficiency multifold.

“What we need in healthcare is something similar— automation of sorts to expedite the processes for care teams and direct the focus of healthcare to enhance population health,” he says.

“Unlike most other sectors, healthcare is flooded with data which is mostly disconnected and disparate. The only challenge we are facing is that 80% of this data is unstructured and is distributed across various mediums such as claims, prescriptions, handwritten notes from physicians, and whatnot, which causes analysis-paralysis,” he says.